Tag Archives: The Shield Institute

Disabled cuts fight not over


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The State Legislature recently voted to restore funds through its budgets to disabled programs. But with negotiations still on the horizon, the battle isn’t over.

“With so many Queens families continuing to struggle during these tough economic times, we must do everything we can to ensure New York State has programs in place to help people in need,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic.

The assembly budget proposal would restore $120 million to not-for-profit organizations that work with developmentally disabled individuals, and an additional $20 million to maintain state-operated mental health services. The Senate proposal also would restore $120 million.

Hundreds of organizations citywide tailored toward developmentally disabled individuals could be subject to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget amendments that will result in a $240 million cut in funding, effective April 1, if an accord between the the executive and legislative branch is not reached.

Charlie Houston, executive director of the Queens Center for Progress (QCP), said that with a cut like the one being proposed, there is “no way” that the center’s services wouldn’t be affected.

“We would have to lay staff off,” he said. “There’s no way we could avoid that.”

A main issue concerning administrators of these organizations, elected officials and disabled individuals is losing members of the “family” they have created in their respective programs.

“I love being here,” said Alan Rosen, a participant in the day program at The Shield Institute. “I don’t want [my aide] to leave, I like her so much.”

Groups such as QCP and The Shield Institute work towards helping disabled individuals live a progressive lifestyle, becoming more active and independent. Each day, they have different activities such as painting and cooking, and also visit different sites throughout the community.

These daily programs and trips outside of the facilities are the ones that could potentially get the ax if administrators are forced to let go of staff. Many patients require constant supervision and care, and without staff, that consistency could become unavailable.

“It would be a movement back towards custodial kind of care, rather than community integration,” said Houston. “It’s a real step backwards.”

Houston also said they may have to close certain programs for weeks at a time.

“What it would come to, for safety reasons, is they’ll just plop them in front of a TV day in and day out,” said Margaret MacPherson, whose brother, Thomas Hatch, 65, goes to QCP. “[But] it’s so important for them to see that life goes on outside of those four walls.”

Hatch lives with eight other people, all of whom need around-the-clock supervision due to different medical issues. MacPherson fears that without an adequate amount of staff, they may lose some of this supervision.

“These people cannot speak for themselves,” she said. “I see that there is absolutely not a nickel of surplus money, and I’m just heart sick for them.”

She said that the QCP staff does a job that is not so pretty, but they remain the loveliest and finest people.

“I’ve been concerned [about the budget] before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this concerned,” she admitted.

There will be a three-way negotiation between the assembly, senate and governor, projected for some time next week, which will determine how much money will officially be restored.

“This isn’t a matter of agencies taking cuts,” said Houston. “It’s going to affect people – a lot of people.”

 

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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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