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Letter: Lawmakers must support campaign for at-risk citizens

As a retired special education teacher, I am concerned about the options awaiting students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as they transition from school to post-secondary services.

Once a student leaves school their person-centered choices, desires, and needs are subject to approval for services by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Front Door process.

Despite Front Door approval students may not receive safe and meaningful services for several reasons. First, the Direct Support Professional (DSP) staffing shortage facing the not-for-profit agency service providers may not allow graduates to access services.

Second, a lack of opportunities exists due to a moratorium on the creation of new, or expansion of already existing, day habilitation services for the most intensely involved graduates with severe I/DD, complex medical issues and or behavior needs.

Lastly, the much-needed not-for-profit agency service providers are facing a financial crisis whereby their sustainability and very existence is being threatened.

Over the past 10 years New York State not-for-profits have received just one cost of living increase of 0.2%, had funding cut by $2.6 billion, and face a potential 2% cut in the near future.

Over the last three years 33% of not-for-profits have had to cut or reduce services for approximately 50,000 individuals with I/DD. Currently, nearly 50% of the providers have less than 40 days of cash on hand, while 33% are one month away from financial insolvency.

A possible solution is the New York State Disability Advocate’s 3FOR5 campaign whereby New York State funds an annual 3% increase over five years.

To update technology, recruit and retain dedicated DSP’s, improved service delivery, to avoid not-for-profit facility closures I ask that we as a society strongly urge all New York State legislators to support the 3FOR5 campaign on behalf of New York State’s most vulnerable citizens.

Joseph Mangio

Tonawanda

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