May 21, 2021
Sullivan County Democrat Story Gives Voice to Advocates
The Arc New York CEO Erik Geizer and Ric Schwartz, Executive Director of The Arc Greater Hudson Valley were featured along with legislative champions and other advocates in a story from The Sullivan County Democrat this week. The story explores the challenges facing our field, and the impact of cuts on staffing and sustainability of services for New Yorkers with I/DD. You can read the full story here.

Representatives Introduce Direct CARE Opportunity Act 
Earlier this week, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. Scott, Rep. Susan Wild, and Rep. Susie Lee introduced the Direct Creation, Advancement, and Retention of Employment (CARE) Opportunity Act (H.R.2999), which would provide investments of more than $1 billion over five years in training and increasing opportunities for direct care workers.  

The Direct CARE Opportunity Act aligns with a key piece of the American Jobs Plan, which calls for significant investments to meet the demand for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). In support of the legislation, The House Committee on Education provided a fact sheet outlining the workforce shortage crisis and the growing need for these skilled jobs.   

The Direct CARE Opportunity Act: 
  • Provides funding to states and entities to invest in strategies to recruit, retain and advance the direct care workforce pipeline; 
  • Implements models and strategies to make the field of direct care more attractive, such as training and registered apprenticeships, career pathways, or mentoring, allowing for local and regional innovation to address workforce shortages and needs in a high-demand field; 
  • Encourages retention and career advancement in the growing field of direct care; 
  • Responds to the needs of a growing aging population and allows older Americans, people with disabilities, and others who require direct care services to remain in their communities, when possible; and  
  • Supports the health and wellbeing of those who need and rely on direct care services, helping to prevent costlier institutional care. 

The Arc of New York and The Arc US wholeheartedly support this legislation and will push for its inclusion in the upcoming American Jobs Plan. Our workforce crisis will require solutions from many sources and this type of legislation and funding is a key piece of that strategy.  
New Resources to Rally Advocates Around Proposed Disability Funding  
The Arc of the United States and Arc of New York are strongly advocating to ensure that Congress makes a historic investment in Medicaid HCBS and addresses the direct care workforce crisis in the American Jobs Plan. COVID-19 economic recovery must include investments in our care infrastructure.  

The Arc US announced the launch of their #MedicaidCantWait campaign toolkit, to aid in these efforts. The toolkit includes sample social media graphics, letters to the editor, and more to support our ongoing advocacy.  

Additionally, The Arc US has recently updated their #MedicaidCantWait webpage, which includes key shareable resources, a video explaining the need for increased Medicaid HCBS funding, and a call to action to add your voice to an online campaign to encourage your network to tell Congress why HCBS matters to them!  

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or suggestions for additional materials that would be helpful in your advocacy. Email Jenny Alexander at [email protected] with any input.  
OPWDD Regional Forums
This year, The Arc New York strongly advocated for OPWDD to begin the long overdue process to develop their Statewide Comprehensive Plan, which is required every five years by law. As a result, this mandate was included in the 2021-22 NYS Budget.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will hold a series of five regional public forums to give input on OPWDD’s strategic priorities, the use of funds from the American Rescue Plan and the development of the agency’s 5-year Statewide Comprehensive Plan. In particular, self-advocates, family members of people with developmental disabilities, advocates, and other interested parties are encouraged to submit comments and/or present testimony. The first forum will be held on May 26. The full event schedule and instructions for providing comments can be found here.

The Arc New York will submit comments on the OPWDD 5.07 plan and engage stakeholders to present public testimony. We will continue to be fully invested in this process and present the necessary recommendations to elevate supports and services. 

The HCBS Access Act: A Law 70 Years in the Making
The Arc of the United States is continuing its webinar series with a discussion about barriers in the current HCBS system, proposed changes found within the HCBS Access Act (HAA) presented by Congress, and what we can do to make sure these changes become a reality. The webinar will take place on June 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM, you can register through The Arc US here.

This webinar will be captioned. The webinar will be recorded and available to view on demand for those who register. Questions? Email [email protected].

Learn more and register here.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
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