Agreement reached to slow BDC closure

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After months of advocacy, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, along with Senator Tom Libous, reached an agreement with the Governor’s Office to slow the planned closure of the Broome Developmental Center.

BDC, along with four other facilities operated by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), will remain open through the end of the 2014-2015 fiscal year and will maintain all state jobs during that time frame.

Additional safeguards will also be put in place to ensure the safety and best possible care of residents at BDC. The Assembly was set to pass the Freeze Unsafe Closures Now Act prior to the end of session, but did not take the bill up after indication that it would be vetoed. Instead, the Governor’s Office met with Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator Libous to hash out the deal, which will allow time to further assess the plan and put proper protocols in place for individuals who require care provided by OPWDD.

Below is a letter from Larry Schwartz, Secretary to the Governor, outlining the agreement:

Dear Senator Libous and Assemblywoman Lupardo:

The purpose of this letter is to confirm our understanding from our meeting today, as follows.

A. We confirm that the following OPWDD facilities will remain open for all of SFY 201415, unless closure is required to address an imminent health or safety issue, a catastrophic emergency, or by mandate of the Federal government:

-Brooklyn Developmental Center

-Broome Developmental Center

-Bernard M. Fineson Developmental Center

-Sunmount Developmental Center

-Valley Ridge Center for lntensive Treatment

B. There will be no layoff of State employees in SFY 2014-15 due to any downsizing of OPWDD Developmental Centers.

C. The Commissioner of OPWDD shall ensure that new community investments shall take place prior to any reduction of facility census.

D. To ensure that appropriate community services are available to individuals leaving Developmental Centers, OPWDD will assess the need for additional State-operated services.

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E. The Commissioner of OPWDD shall provide monthly status reports to the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly fiscal committees. Such report shall include:

-Current census by facility;

-An explanation of any significant census reductions; and

-Community services provided to individuals leaving facilities, including those individuals with complex needs.

F. OPWDD will enter into negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors to offer County Mental Hygiene Directors notification and an invitation to attend the discharge planning process for each individual, whether involuntarily retained or on voluntary status, who will be leaving a Developmental Center.

G. OPWDD will continue to require that SORA registrants comply with applicable registration requirements upon leaving OPWDD Developmental Centers.

H. OPWDD will continue to request court-ordered retention in an institutional setting for any individual requesting discharge who meets the legal definition for retention. Unless a Judge orders release, no one will be returned to the community who we believe meets the legal standard for retention.

l. The administration plans to convene a workgroup of representatives from public employee unions to put together a long term plan on how we will provide mental health and developmental disability services in the future, including ways in which state-run services can be preserved.

Sincerely,

Larry Schwartz

Secretary to the Governor