October 15, 2021
NYS Advocates Launch Grassroots RISE UP Campaign
Advocates across New York have launched the RISE UP campaign, which encourages all advocates to tell their personal stories, particularly as it relates to supports provided by Direct Support Professionals (DSP) and the workforce crisis. The goal is to make clear to Governor Hochul, that due to the lack of investment for years, we are now at a crossroads and need New York state to finally invest in our supports services. The campaign has already garnered media attention, with a story from WBFO NPR.

Your stories drive change. So, please fill out the form here with your information and personalize the letter with a YOUR story and details before you send the email. A great place to start writing your story is after the first paragraph of the letter.

As we all RISE UP, we are sending a message to the governor to do the same. Please share this opportunity with friends and family members too!

Commissioner Kastner Resigns, The Arc New York Sends Message to Hochul
On Tuesday, October 12, it was confirmed that Ted Kastner’s last day as the Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities was Friday, October 8. Executive Deputy Commissioner Roger Bearden will reportedly be assuming the role of Acting Commissioner until a formal replacement can be announced. 

In light of these changes, and given the gravity of the matters facing the I/DD field at this time, The Arc New York CEO, Erik Geizer submitted a letter to Governor Hochul outlining the ideal characteristics of the next commissioner, as well as a number of pressing matters, including disbursement of the eFMAP funding, finalization of the 5.07 plan, rate methodology reform, regulatory relief, ongoing COVID mitigation and prevention efforts, and managed care expectations.

We will continue to call for a Commissioner who is a fierce advocate for the people we support, and who will make independent and objective policy decisions that impact our field.

Virtual Workforce Rally Tuesday
New York Disability Advocates, regional Arc Chapters, and Hudson Valley Service Providers will be joined by State Senators and Assembly members, Direct Support Professionals, self-advocates, and family members for a virtual workforce rally next Tuesday, October 19 at 11 AM.

The rally is one of many being held across the state to raise awareness about our workforce crisis and call for solutions. The event will be streamed live on the NYDA Facebook Page.
The Arc New York 2021 Annual Meeting
The Arc New York 2021 Annual Meeting will be held virtually from Tuesday, October 19 – Friday, October 22. The program is robust, but we hope you’ll be able to join us for as many sessions as possible. There is no charge for this year’s event. You can view the full schedule of events here.

We would like to highlight two sessions focused on federal issues and advocacy that might be of interest:

Jennifer Johnson, EdD, Deputy Commissioner, Administration on Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, US Department of Health and Human Services, will present a session titled Blazing New Trails for Direct Support Professionals in the Community” on Tuesday, October 19 from 1-2 PM. This session will highlight initiatives at the federal level that aim to address the staffing crisis, including the Administration for Community Living’s prize competition to strengthen the DSP workforce and overall stability of home and community-based services (HCBS) for individuals with I/DD.

Peter Berns, Chief Executive Director, The Arc of the United States will moderate a panel on Friday, October 22 from 1-2 PM on "How Strong, Prepared, and Interconnected Advocacy Networks Make the Biggest Impact.The panel will discuss how all the elements of advocacy come together to achieve our goals. Current federal policy updates will be used as examples throughout the panel. You do not want to miss it!

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month
Governor Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation declaring October Disability Employment Awareness Month. In her comments, Hochul stated, "New York State is committed to ensuring its disabled workers have equal opportunities and are supported in the workplace and beyond. . . . We are committed to making sure those with disabilities are never overlooked, and that they have fair and quality employment options in this state.” The full press release and text of the proclamation can be found here.

In addition to the proclamation, the NYS Assembly will hold a public hearing on October 20 to examine the availability of employment opportunities for people with disabilities, with a specific focus on the availability of services to assist individuals in accessing employment. The Arc New York will submit written testimony in advance of the hearing, and several Chapters of The Arc New York will offer their unique perspectives through written and oral testimony. The hearing will be streamed live in the NYS Assembly website.
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 
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