August 5, 2022
Health Care Workforce Bonus Excludes Some Frontline Workers
On Wednesday, Governor Hochul announced the official launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program. Enacted in the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State Budget, the program includes $1.3 billion for recruitment and retention bonuses for health care and mental hygiene workers. Bonuses will be awarded to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. The maximum bonus for each employee is $3,000.

However, in guidance released this week, the Department of Health (DOH) extended the bonus eligibility to patient-facing food service workers, janitorial/maintenance workers and medical secretaries/administrative support who are employed by hospitals and nursing homes, but not to those same workers in other settings, which includes many of the settings provided by The Arc New York Chapters.

New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) released a statement applauding the administration for including additional frontline employees, but expressing dismay that they would not apply to employees performing the same work in different settings. Coverage of the statement was published in the Niagra Gazette and Crain's Health Pulse 

Additionally, NYDA and The Arc New York CEO, Erik Geizer sent a letter to DOH Commissioner Mary Bassett asking DOH to, “swiftly address this inequity and extend the same employee title eligibility to our employees with equivalent titles, serving individuals with I/DD.”

You can visit the governor’s website for the full press release and video of the announcement.
Call to Action: Urge Governor to Sign Bill Expanding Job Opportunities for People with I/DD
As noted in our July 15 update, The Arc New York joined six other non-profits representing New Yorkers with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities in sending a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul urging her to sign S.7578-C (Mannion)/A.8549-C (Burdick), also known as the Preferred Source Modernization Bill.

The Arc New York has launched a one-click grassroots campaign to further support this important advocacy effort. Click here to automatically send a letter of support to Governor Hochul. Messages can be customized to reflect your personal experience. Once you send your letter, please share on Facebook and Twitter so others can do the same.
NYDA Responds to Times Union Article on Workforce Crisis
On Sunday, July 31, The Times Union published a story highlighting the workforce crisis, with particular focus on supports and services provided directly by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). 

In a series of Tweets, New York Disability Advocates (NYDA), noted that the staffing crisis in the I/DD sector does not only impact OPWDD state-operated services, but also the non-profit providers who support 80% of New Yorkers with I/DD.

To bring context to the disparity in pay, they noted that the state increased starting pay for their own Direct Care staff by 13% in March 2022, bringing their hourly wage to $20.39 an hour. This stands in contrast to the approximately $14.65 average starting wage for DSPs working in the non-profit sector, which has suffered from over a decade of underfunding, resulting in lower wages and higher staff vacancies.
Congressional August Recess Advocacy Toolkit
Each August, members of Congress leave Washington, D.C., and return to their home states. During this time, they meet with constituents in their districts to learn about issues that matter to them.

Members of The Arc will be advocating for and educating members of Congress about vital programs for people with disabilities at town hall meetings, community events, virtual visits, and more. It is important that they also hear from YOU during this time!

The Arc US has created a free toolkit to help you advocate both during this August recess and year-round. Use it to help educate your elected officials about key federal issues that affect people with disabilities and their families, such as:

  • Increased funding for home and community-based services (HCBS)
  • Better wages for direct care workers
  • Changes to increase the amount that people who receive Supplemental Security Income can save

The toolkit includes advocacy tips, sample social media posts and graphics, and other resources. We encourage you to contact your representative via email, phone, or even by scheduling a meeting in person or through Zoom. You can find your representative here
Upcoming Events for the Willowbrook Legacy Project
The Historical Society of the New York Courts will present a panel discussion September 22, in collaboration with the Willowbrook Legacy Project at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, titled "WILLOWBROOK STATE SCHOOL: How a Lawsuit Closed the Gates to a Notorious Institution and Opened the Doors of Opportunity for Thousands."

A distinguished panel of attorneys who have been involved with this case will discuss the filing of the complaint, the entry of a Consent Judgment, the continuing nature of the litigation and the importance and relevance of Willowbrook today. 
The presentation will take place Thursday, September 22 from 6 – 8 PM, and will be a hybrid event with options for in-person or virtual attendance. You can register here

Visit the Willowbrook Youtube page to see additional presentations in this series.

A save the date has also been released for the ribbon cutting for the Willowbrook Mile on September 17 from 11 AM – 2 PM.

Want to do More?
Visit The Arc New York Advocacy Center for more ways to take action, including campaigns to support federal funding, employment opportunities, and our dedicated workforce. You can also find tools and resources to help you be a stronger advocate for New Yorkers with disabilities.

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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