Families, advocates, and people with intellectual and developmental across New York State are urging State legislators and Gov. Cuomo to include adequate funding in the New York State Budget to meet the critical need for supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.
Chapters of NYSARC, Inc., a statewide organization supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are working to bring to the public’s attention the difficulties families already encounter when trying to access services.
“Changes in government policy will only make the situation worse for families,” says Mike Doherty, executive director of the Chemung County Chapter of NYSARC. “In November 2014 bills that were approved by the State Senate and Assembly were sent to the Governor’s Office and seen as essential to address the growing waiting list of people living at home who need residential services and other supports. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed those bills.”
Jeannette Frank, executive director of the Schuyler County Chapter of NYSARC reiterated disappointment in the Governor’s vetoes.
“Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live at home with their families and their parents are their primary caretaker,” Frank said. “As children age out of school the whole family loses support networks the school once provided. In order to receive support that continues into adulthood, the family needs to have their child with special needs qualify through the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities’ “Front Door”. Once qualified, the options being offered to families are being limited. Families are understandably under a lot of stress because of the speed at which the State is trying to transform the system.”
NYSARC officials are calling for more attention and resources for appropriate housing options, training and maintaining professional direct support staff, and expanded opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to lead a fulfilling life.
Tom and Nancy Ruda are parents who think outside the box and with two adult daughters who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, they have to.
Tom and Nancy’s oldest daughter Katie is 35 and lives with them at their home in Watkins Glen, NY. In addition to an intellectual disability, Katie has significant medical needs and relies on her parents for support. “She used to be able to cook for herself, but now she gets confused and I have to give her instructions on simple steps and tasks like how to boil potatoes,” Nancy said.
“I have to fill her medications and if we don’t help her, she’ll take the wrong one,” Tom added. Katie had been self-sufficient for years, but her parents recognize that her body is aging rapidly and her memory is fading.
The Arc of Schuyler is utilizing a $10,000 NYSARC Trust grant to support innovative recreational programs related to technology and the arts for the people it supports.
The Arc offers daily technology classes where people learn how to use iPads and apps for both education and recreation. People also attend WiFi Wednesday technology workshops to access the internet and learn how to use agency or personal tablets, laptops, and other devices. The purchase of additional iPads, apps, and adaptive equipment has created fun learning opportunities and allowed more people to be involved. Read More about this.
The Arc also offers arts programs through the Franklin Street Gallery in Watkins Glen. New equipment and supplies have expanded opportunities for participants to experiment with diverse art mediums, interact with new artist instructors, and share learning experiences in inclusive classes and workshops with members of the community.
NYSARC Trust Services Board approved a remainder fund grant of $10,000 per chapter to provide recreational opportunities for people they support. Remainder fund grants totaling $1,660,500 were awarded to support NYSARC guardianship programs statewide. A total of $2,207,880 in remainder grants were awarded in 2014 to support recreation and guardianship statewide.
The Arc of Schuyler was featured in the Winter 2014-15 issue of Apostrophe Magazine a nationally distributed publication that promotes inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The photos and stories in Apostrophe Magazine show people achieving independence, contributing to their communities, enjoying life. The article is below; you can also find it on pages 54-55 of the magazine.
New York Chapter of The Arc Helps Narrow Digital Divide
Computer technology and the Internet are critical tools to access information, employment, educational, social, and civic opportunities. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are too often left behind when it comes to access and education about advancing technology. The Arc of Schuyler in Watkins Glen and rural upstate New York recognized that for the people it supports to be wholly included in their communities, it needed to provide opportunities and appropriate supports and access for people to use technology.
The Arc of Schuyler is proud to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.
Volunteers from The Arc of Schuyler recently donated two hand painted rain barrels to community gardens in Montour Falls and Watkins Glen.
Both barrels were painted by people with developmental disabilities and college students during a workshop at The ARTS Experience, a festival celebrating inclusion and the arts at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Participants at the workshop learned about the environmental benefits of using rain barrels and painted several to be donated to community organizations in the region.
One of the barrels was gifted to the Schuyler County Cornell Cooperative Extension Teaching Garden at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities receiving supports through The Arc volunteer twice a week at the Teaching Garden, assisting Horticulture Program Educator, Roger Ort with planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting a variety of plant species.
As part of its Eat Smart Move More program, The Arc of Schuyler’s Health and Wellness committee is partnering with local organizations and individuals to coordinate trainings and other opportunities that focus on nutrition and physical activity. The program engages people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive supports through The Arc and employees.
- The Arc has partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension for its Nutrition Educator to provide staff training in balanced nutrition, safe cooking, and healthy meal planning.
- The Nutrition Educator has also been conducting Eat Smart NY lessons in basic cooking, food safety skills, weight control, and physical activity at The Arc’s community residences for people receiving supports.
- The Nutrition Educator will teach “smart shopping” to a group that includes people with developmental disabilities who live independently in the community and Arc staff. The program educates shoppers on how to choose nutritious foods and plan healthy meals.