Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-15-2013, 02:47 AM
Laura's Avatar
Laura Laura is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2,682
Post Pols to restore $90M for developmentally disabled on Staten Island (photos)

Pols to restore $90M for developmentally disabled on Staten Island (photos)
By Stephanie Slepian/Staten Island Advance
on June 14, 2013 at 7:15 AM, updated June 14, 2013 at 9:28 AM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Jen Prestia, Iraida Crespo and Akram Shihadeh learned how to use math in everyday life as they sat in a makeshift classroom in Willowbrook on Wednesday. A week earlier, the lesson was about the branches of government -- the three even acted as legislators vetoing bills.

But those lessons -- and their cheerful classroom, with colorful drawings on the wall, run by Person Centered Care Services, were at risk -- facing a proposed $90 million, statewide budget cut in programs for the developmentally disabled.

Thursday night, it was reported that state lawmakers are to restore the $90 million funding next week.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Nassau County), who introduced the legislation, said he met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday to secure his commitment to restore the aid, and also received assurances from the Senate for the bill.

Pleased by the outcome was Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn), who co-sponsored the bill to reinstate funding.

"It came down to the parents, the families, the providers who joined us in advocating and just not giving up that we were able to do this," she said.

Staten Island advocates for the developmentally disabled were also happy about the news.

"I am relieved," said Cris Marchionne, executive director of Person Centered Care Services. "But from my perspective, cuts like this should never have happened. It's discriminatory ... I am happy the restoration is there, but disappointed we had to fight so hard to get it back."

Donna Long, executive director of the G.R.A.C.E. Foundation, which advocates for children with autism, agreed.

"It should have never come to this, quite honestly. The impact the cuts would have had on services would have been really catastrophic. The fact we don't have to worry now about losing services for our children is very important."

But Ms. Long had a reminder: There are no guarantees for the future.

"We try to teach them so they don't get taken advantage of," says John Martinez of Person Centered Care Services, a Charleston-based program that teaches developmentally disabled individuals how to get correct change at the supermarket, or how to make a grilled cheese sandwich or use a washing machine.Staten Island Advance/Melissa Giaccio

"We never sit back and take things for granted, and relax. Unfortunately, we have to constantly be on our guard and advocate to ensure the services are there for our kids, who deserve to have a decent quality of life. These kinds of cuts affecting the most vulnerable are the wrong thing to do. I applaud those individuals who fought for restoration."

The 4.5 percent cut, amounting to $90 million, had been reduced from an initially proposed 6 percent cut, or $120 million, affecting the 126,000 New Yorkers who receive services from the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

To make matters worse, agencies would have lost out on a federal match if the cuts became part of the executive budget.

Cuomo had said the spending reductions should be "borne by the administrative overhead and the executive salaries and executive expenses, rather than the cost of direct care and direct supervision."

Through executive order, he had capped executive compensation at nonprofits and other organizations to $199,000. But that doesn't apply to many groups.

"Not one of us is even making anywhere close to that cap," said Ms. Long.


"When all of the family members, friends, neighbors and people who work in the field are taken into consideration, the number is very close to a million people who will be affected in some ways by this dramatic change," reads a letter sent to Cuomo last month by the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council.

At the end of the day, the cuts would have left many without therapy, housing, employment and a chance for independence, the agency leaders said.

Like those students in the PCCS classroom, learning to get correct change at the supermarket.

"We try to teach them so they don't get taken advantage of," said John Martinez, the agency's day habilitation coordinator.

"If cuts were made, it would be drastic. A lot of people would end up sitting at home when we're trying to set them up for everyday life."

---Advance news reporter Kiawana Rich contributed to this report.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Forum style by: ForumMonkeys
©2006 Disabled NYC
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.