March 4, 2022
Kerri Neifeld Confirmed as Commissioner of OPWDD
Kerri Neifeld was confirmed as the new commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) by the NYS Senate on Wednesday, following a recommendation by the Senate Finance Committee. A recording of her confirmation can be found here, beginning at the 48-minute mark.

Earlier in the week, Neifeld appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to make a case for her confirmation, detailing her life-long commitment to public service and her dedication to serving people with I/DD. You can read her full comments here, and view the recording of her comments here.

The Arc New York congratulates Commissioner Neifeld on this milestone. We look forward to working in partnership with the new Commissioner, and are confident her leadership will advance the important work underway to improve the lives of people I/DD and the people who support them.

Ongoing Budget Advocacy: The Fight is Not Over!
We must advocate with legislators to ensure the needed funding proposed in the Executive Budget is included in the final budget. There are organizations in New York who are actively working against the advances we have made. Your voice is vitally important in this call!

To support your advocacy efforts, we created an easy one-click email campaign. This tool will help you connect directly with your legislators to call for investment in supports and services for New Yorker's with I/DD. The complete Budget Advocacy Toolkit is also available in The Arc New York Advocacy Center. This toolkit provides helpful resources for meetings with your legislators, including shareable information sheets and talking points. Here are our key advocacy priorities:

  • Accept the 5.4% COLA for OPWDD voluntary providers
  • Accept frontline healthcare worker bonus program and modify the bottom-tier requirements to include part-time employees who work at least 15 hours per week on average. 
  • Make DSP bonuses permanent in future budgets to aid with recruitment and retention.
  • Accept the 11% COLA for special education provider tuition rates
  • Include a personal income tax credit of up to $5,000 for DSPs

We urge you to take a moment to send a letter, and share the link on social media and with your networks. The more people who participate, the more legislators are aware of our priorities. As of today, 600 advocates have made their voice heard with their letter, but we need the rest of our 100,000 members to do the same right now. As always, our voices are stronger together!

This is a critically important time to talk to your elected officials, as budget negotiations are ongoing. Find your representative here, and be sure to report the outcome of your meeting by completing our outreach survey.

Last Call: 2022 NADSP Advocacy Symposium – Amplifying DSP Voices
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) is holding its first-ever national advocacy event March 9-10, 2022, to bring the direct support professional (DSP) perspective to the forefront of Congress and the Administration.

Challenges from the pandemic and recent legislation have provided new insights and opportunities for DSPs. NADSP recognizes the critical importance of lifting the voices of DSPs to federal policy-makers, to ensure public policy is informed by the people who are on the front lines of supporting people with disabilities to live, work and thrive in the community.

NADSP will provide DSPs, family advocates, and self-advocates from across the country with comprehensive advocacy virtual training on March 9, culminating with virtual meetings with Congressional leaders and staff on March 10, to educate and advocate on NADSP’s public policy priorities for 2022. These meeting will be planned for you, so all you have to do is attend!

The goal of the symposium is to bolster the ranks and knowledge of DSP advocates, so recruitment and registration should focused on DSPs. To help highlight the important work of DSPs, we also encourage outreach to family advocates and self-advocates. 
Visit the event page for registration and more information.

SANYS Event: Revitalizing Self-Advocacy
Calling all Self-Advocates, SA Advisors, Administrators, and other allies! The Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS) is hosting an event at 1 PM on March 30, focused on the revitalization of the self-advocacy network. You can join the event here.

The pandemic and staffing crisis have created significant challenges for the self-advocacy network in NYS. It is important that we reconnect to revitalize and energize self-advocacy. SANYS is asking everyone who supports self-advocacy to come together for a conversation about overcoming challenges, celebrating self-advocacy, and to explore steps to rebuild lost connections.  

The Arc New York seeks to continually build relationships across organizations. Self-advocacy is a vital part of our shared efforts, and we look forward to the discussion and hope you do as well.

Registration Open for 2022 Disability Policy Seminar
Registration for the 2022 Disability Policy Seminar is now open. This year's seminar will be will be a hybrid event from March 28-30. You will have the opportunity to join advocates in person in Washington, DC or virtually!

The Disability Policy Seminar offers the opportunity for passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to come together and learn about key issues that affect them most. After attending, you will have the tools to bring strong advocacy to virtual meetings and other follow-up actions as we work to raise awareness among members of Congress about issues important to the disability community.

Register by March 13 to take advantage of early bird rates!
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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