August 6, 2021
Funding for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Advocacy Alert
For the past several weeks we have been reporting on our advocacy regarding the inclusion of the Better Care Better Jobs Act in the upcoming budget reconciliation resolution. Our focus has and will remain on our workforce crisis, but the fluid situation in Washington DC has created an additional wrinkle affecting people with I/DD and providers of supports and services, and that is special education.

Special education schools have been severely underfunded for decades. We need our congressional representatives to support and not diminish the proposed $900 million for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part D Personnel Prep in the budget reconciliation package being negotiated right now in congress. This funding, which is part of a broader $9 billion educator pipeline investment proposed in the American Families Plan could be at risk and now is the time to advocate!

If enacted, the $900M boost to IDEA Part D could potentially address the critical special education shortage over the next decade, which would be pivotal for children with disabilities, their families, and educators. We have waited long enough to be recognized as an essential education resource and cannot let this opportunity pass us by! Take action now using the links and resources below.

Senator Gillibrand Meetings with The Arc New York and NYDA
On Tuesday, August 3, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined New York Disability Advocates (NYDA), The Arc New York, and other NYDA member agencies, for a candid discussion on federal issues affecting New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the providers that support them.

Erik Geizer, CEO of The Arc New York joined other leaders in the field to provide important information and timely questions to the senator, including whether the “5/1” residential cuts are allowable under Section 9817 of American Rescue Plan Act, referring to NYDA's recent letter to OPWDD challenging the permissibility of the action.

We thank Senator Gillibrand for leading the conversation with her support of the Better Care Better Jobs Act and Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act. She is also a co-sponsor of the Recognizing the Role of Director Professionals Act.

If you were not able to join the discussion live, the recording is available here. Please take half an hour to view this important update on our advocacy platform and actions.

Bill Eliminating Archaic Language Signed into Law
On August 2, the governor signed New York State Senator Mannion and Assemblywoman Gunther's S4777/A6564, which replaces instances of the word "mentally ill person" with "person with a mental illness" or "person with a mental disability" in certain instances of New York state law. This is one of many steps The Arc New York is taking to eradicate demoralizing and biased terminology from the state statute. In our April 15 update, we shared our collaboration with Senator Persaud’s office on the elimination of “MR” from various other sections of NYS law (S6195/A7443). That work continues as we move into the next legislative session. We also thank Assemblyman Abinanti for sponsoring the bill in the Assembly.
Schenectady ARC Regional Rally
a Huge Success
Schenectady ARC and Assemblyman Angelo Stantabarbara co-hosted a rally last week to bring attention to the workforce crisis. They were joined by nearly a dozen Chapters of The Arc New York, NYDA, other area providers, families, self-advocates and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to call for appropriate resources to recruit and retain DSPs, who are the backbone of the service system. Assemblyman Santabarbara highlighted the growing threat to sustainable and equitable supports and services New Yorkers with I/DD. Senator James Tedisco and Assemblyman Phil Steck also spoke and offered their support.

Self-advocates, parents, and DSPs provided an impassioned call to enact systemic change and invest in stable and sustainable supports and services for people with I/DD. Their experiences personalized the staffing crisis, which has been escalating for years and is now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rally generated media attention in multiple outlets. Coverage can be viewed below:

Deadline Approaching for Grant Opportunity: 2022 MLK Day of Service
The Arc US is partnering with AmeriCorps to offer $5,000 to $20,000 grants to chapters of The Arc to develop service projects that include people with and without disabilities. Volunteer activities should help provide food to those suffering from food insecurity within the local community. Learn more here

Update on Arc US Survey on Position Statements
Over the last few months, The Arc US has been reviewing their Policy and Positions statements and solicited your comments. Based on the recommendation of The Arc US Policy and Positions Committee, the boards of directors of The Arc and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) voted to conduct a full substantive review and revision of three of the statements:

  • Human and Civil Rights;
  • Addressing the Causes and Effects of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; and
  • Advocacy

In addition, the boards agreed to write a new joint position statement on anti-racism. AAIDD adopted an anti-racism statement in December 2020, which can serve as a starting point for that statement. This revision process will begin in September. Comments from chapters, advisory committees, and leadership committees on the current versions of the four statements are welcomed, so the Policy and Positions Committee and its workgroups may consider them during the revision process. An editable version of the position statements can be downloaded here, and a survey will be available in September to receive comments, which we will share once it's released. In the meantime, contact Mike Nagel at with any questions.

How Can The Arc US Help You Find Programs to Do at Home?
The Arc US is in the middle of launching an exciting new resource -- a free Virtual Program Library that will serve as a hub for on-demand activities that can be done from home. People with I/DD and their families will be able to find and share activities to do themselves. There will also be resources that service providers can use to facilitate or deliver live remote programming.

The Arc US and The Arc New York want the Virtual Program Library to be the best it can be, and we need your help to make it a robust and valuable resource for people with I/DD who must or prefer to access programs from home. So, what resources would you recommend? Please complete this survey to give us your thoughts!
This and all advocacy updates are archived on The Arc New York website for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
This email was sent to:
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Chapter Board Members
  • Executive Directors 
  • Chief Operating Officers
  • Chief Financial Officers  
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Residential Directors
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance
  • Trust Services and State Office Staff