March 11, 2022
Capitol Rally and Budget Updates
The Arc New York and its NYDA partners will hold a budget rally outside the NYS Capitol on Wednesday, March 23 at 11 AM. This will be the first in-person rally at the capitol in years! We hope to gather as many people as possible and drive home the message to our state legislators and the governor that we need sustained investment in the I/DD field now more than ever. Register for the rally here to receive updates as additional details emerge. 

Next week, we expect the Senate and Assembly to release their one-house budget bills, which will be the basis for negotiations between both houses and the governor. In the past week alone, we have had about 1,100 new advocates engage their legislators through our one-click advocacy campaign, bringing the total to over 1,700. The momentum is building, but we have to keep pressing on, so please participate if you have not done so already, and share the call with family, friends, and on social media. 
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
Willowbrook: A Retrospective on Systems Change
The City University of New York (CUNY) is holding a Spring 2022 Disability Studies lecture series, "Willowbrook: A Retrospective on Systems Change" commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Exposé of Willowbrook State School and its influence in the systems change for the field. This two-part lecture series will examine systems change from two different vantage points.

In the first lecture Dr. Mariette Bates will bring to life how the Geraldo Rivera Willowbrook exposé and people mobilizing in its wake led to a revolution in thinking and care for people with intellectual disabilities. The event will be held on March 15 at 6 PM. Additional details and registration information can be found here.
The Arc New York Congratulates Commissioner Neifeld
Following last week’s announcement of the confirmation of Kerri Neifeld as Commissioner of the Office for People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), The Arc New York President Jack Kowalczyk and Chief Executive Officer Erik Geizer send a congratulatory letter to Commissioner Neifeld.

They noted there has been a “pivotal shift in the relationship between The Arc New York and OPWDD" under Neifeld's leadership, "evidenced by more open lines of communication, transparency, and an increased willingness to collaborate with stakeholders.”

OPWDD Publishes Regulatory Agenda
OPWDD published their 2022 Regulatory Agenda in the latest edition of the New York State Register and on their website. 

OPWDD intends to address several regulations in 2022, including those relating to due process procedures, defining Day Habilitation without Walls programmatic standards, and Health Care Proxy provisions. OPWDD has specifically included "General Regulatory Relief – to implement amendments to outdated regulatory processes in order to provide resource relief to OPWDD regulated providers." This goal comes in response to our ongoing advocacy efforts calling for regulatory reform. Please keep in mind that this list is subject to change as the year progresses.

The Arc New York has representation on OPWDD's Regulatory Affairs Workgroup. This group reviews draft regulations, ADMs and guidance prior to distribution. This is an important forum for advocacy, and we will be seeking comments on draft materials wherever possible over the year. 
Last Call for DPS Early Bird Registration Rates! 
Early Bird Registration for the 2022 Disability Policy Seminar will end this coming Sunday, March 13. 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.
If you are attending DPS in person this year, please contact Philip Aydinian,, so we can coordinate activities as The Arc New York
Register by March 13 to take advantage of early bird rates!

Sign-on to Support $150B HCBS Investment
Caring Across Generations and The Arc of the United States are circulating a sign-on opportunity for organizations to voice their support for inclusion of the $150 billion Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) investments from Build Back Better (BBB) in the upcoming federal budget reconciliation package. We are seeing some movement forward and need to keep HCBS front of mind for all Members of Congress and the Administration!

The full letter can be seen here. If you wish to have your organization sign on, all you need to do is complete the sign-on form. The Arc New York is already a signatory, and they are accepting sign-ons from national, state, and local organizations. This is a great way for The Arc New York Chapters to be part of a national movement. Please forward broadly to other networks and coalitions you might work with. The deadline for signing on is Tuesday, March 15.

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.
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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