Tag Archives: disabilities cuts

Dismal budget has disabled distraught


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The Shield Institute taught Sui Chan to walk and talk. Now she fears budget cuts may take away from the program she calls her lifeline.

The organization for the developmentally disabled, along with over 600 others citywide, are currently subject to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget amendments that will result in a $240 million cut in funding, effective April 1.

“The Shield is where I find my voice,” said Chan, 52, through an electronic speaking device. “I am asking [Cuomo] to not cut the services that I receive because, to be honest, my life depends on it.”

Programs for developmentally disabled individuals were also victim of budget cuts three years ago and have since received no increase in funding. Between that slash in funds and the current one, it amounts to a $400 million loss.

Groups such as The Shield Institute aim towards helping these people live a progressive lifestyle, becoming more active and independent. Each day, they have different activities such as painting, cooking and exercising. Patients also meet with physical therapists, speech therapists and psychologists.

Officials fear with the looming spending slashes, their staff may have to take the fall.

“We have people that have complex needs,” said Dr. Susan Provenzano, executive director at The Shield. “We pride ourselves on being able to provide good, quality service, and this would put a strain on that ability.”

Louise Young’s 55-year-old brother, Fred Lotti, has been going to The Shield Institute’s day program for 30 years. Young said Lotti, who has cerebral palsy, throughout his entire life, he has not been left alone for even five minutes.

“He needs, what I call, a shadow,” said Young. “They need to dress him, prepare his food, drive him places. If they start making cuts, these people are not going to be able to function.”

Genevieve Murphy, an aide at The Shield Institute, said that after she told her group about the cuts, they all became very concerned.

With Murphy’s help, the group compiled a letter to send to Albany, urging Cuomo to reconsider the budget proposal.

“Just take a second to close your eyes and imagine yourself not being able to walk, eat by yourself, or communicate what you feel,” they said in the letter. “We are just asking you to please think twice.”

 

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Cuomo’s proposed cuts to developmentally disabled would be ‘devastating’


| editorial@queenscourier.com


BY DENISE ROMANO & MAGGIE HAYES

Carol Goldstein doesn’t know where to turn.

With the threat of budget cuts looming, she fears her autistic son will not get the services he so desperately needs.

Her son, and those living with developmental disabilities will be “devastated” by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts, say activists.

Advocates have been sending letters and holding protests to stop the cuts, which some say will reverse years of progress.

The proposed cuts, effective April 1, will strike $240 million from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities’ (OPWDD) budget: Cuomo’s cuts taking $120 million, and the other half that is traditionally matched by the state, according to Peter Smergut, CEO of Life’s WORC.

“This is going to have a dire consequence,” said Smergut. “The repercussions are going to have an impact on the people that we support every day.”

“It makes me feel devastated. It kills me,” said Goldstein, of Bayside.

Life’s WORC, along with over 600 organizations citywide, aims to provide disabled individuals with services that facilitate an independent and productive lifestyle; now, the groups are deciding where to make cuts.

Additionally, federal funding that comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would slash $1.1 billion from total Medicaid funding sent to the state, which includes funding for OPWDD as well as other state agencies, amounting to “the largest funding cuts ever” according to the Coalition of Families for Direct Support Staff in Services for People with Developmental Disabilities, which has sent out an alert to supporters, contending, “Our services would be decimated.”

“Our family has been [in New York] for three generation, and now the state can’t take him?” said Goldstein. “Where does my child go?”

Smergut noted that there is not a lot of bureaucratic fat in his organization. “Where are our cuts supposed to come from?” he asked. “It’s people doing people work. It’s extremely frustrating.”

Additionally, OPWDD funding was not exclusively for people with developmental disorders, but for all kinds of other safety programs, according to Smergut, such as programs for drug and alcohol abuse.

“At the end of the day, all of our consumers are going to end up without the kind of support that they traditionally had,” he said.

 

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