(BINGHAMTON, NY) – With all but two developmental centers across the state set to close within the next year under a plan set forth by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Assemblyman Clifford Crouch joined with local advocates to call on the Governor to sign a bill that will ensure that appropriate services follow residents into community residential settings. Lupardo and Crouch are the sponsor and prime co-sponsor, respectively, of Assembly bill A7332 which would ensure that needed services and care be provided to individuals with developmental disabilities.
“Residents at places like Broome Developmental Center are used to a certain level of care provided by well-trained professionals,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo (D-Endwell). “If that same degree of high quality care is not available in a community setting, then these individuals should remain in place and not be rushed into potentially unsafe situations.”
“It is absolutely critical that the services these individuals are currently depending on follow them into their new community setting,” said Assemblyman Crouch (R-Bainbridge). “Consistency and familiarity is essential in helping people with a developmental disability. With this legislation, we can ensure that happens. The governor must sign this bill into law immediately to guarantee there is no service lapse.”
A7332 passed the Assembly unanimously on June 17th. The Senate passed its version of the bill, S4094, unanimously the next day. It now awaits action by the Governor, who has until midnight on November 21st to either sign or veto the bill. Advocates for residents and staff at Broome Developmental Center also voiced support of the bill.
“Governor Cuomo needs to listen to the concerns that have long been expressed by parents, advocates and staff who care for individuals every day,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “Parents are rightly concerned that their loved ones will continue to receive the care they need. Staff are rightly concerned they can continue to deliver the care and have the necessary help to do it.”
“The 52,000 PEF members appreciate the continued efforts of our elected Assembly officials to ensure the continuation of State operated OPWDD services, but there is still much more that needs to be done to ensure New Yorkers get the quality services they need and deserve,” said PEF President Wayne Spence.
If the bill is signed, Lupardo and Crouch point out that OPWDD’s Transformation Agenda will still move forward. The plan calls for the number of individuals in institutional settings to be decreased from the current 400 statewide to just 150; a number that the two legislators say is unrealistic. Some individuals may have needs that will be too difficult to manage in the community, while others will need closer supervision due to behavioral issues. At a hearing last month, in response to questioning by Assemblywoman Lupardo, Helene DeSanto, Deputy Commissioner for Service Delivery for OPWDD, conceded that if that goal was found to be unattainable, the agency would reevaluate that portion of the plan.