Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Can We Do??

Governor Paterson suggests that the way to fix New York's financial woes is to cut funding to the OMRDD (developmental disabilities) and to the OMH (mental health) by 10%. When you take into the loss of matching funds this will add up to something like $375 million to the agencies that provide care and services throughout the state in this fiscal year...

As a solution our Republican legislators have proposed that NY cut Medicaid--victimizing the exact same population (with the addition of the elderly...)There is plenty of discretionary spending in the state, but THIS is where we begin.

I am disgusted.

I talked about why we'd advocate in my last post. Now, I want to talk about how:

1. Write letters, faxes, e-mails. The following is based on info was sent out by The Advocacy Center.

What is the best way to make contact?

By e-mail or fax (because of urgency) - or directly by telephone and in person.

Who do I contact? What if I do not know who they are?

Contact your personal State Senator and State Assemblyperson. You can go here and type in your zip code to get the names and contact information.

Are there others I should contact? Yes. You should also contact:

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Assembly Minority Leader – Brian Kolb

Diana Ritter, Commissioner of NYSOMRDD:

When should I do this? Best if before Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guidelines for your Letter or Conversation

For Parents, Grandparents and other concerned family:

My name is_____________. My ________(child or other relationship to you of person with a disability) has __________.

For Self-Advocates:
My name is_____________. My disability is__________.

I have received (or my family has) ______________services (please list all examples if more than one) from_______________(names of agencies.) This has helped (me/my child/our family) in the following ways:_________________________(please be specific and name the direct impact it has had; for example – improved educational program, improved learning/grades, obtained employment, improved health obtained access to X,Y,or Z services, etc.).

Please do not cut OMRDD Family Support Services and Local Assistance funding. These services provide important support for children and adults with disabilities, and their families, including services like:

Whatever your family receives. Include things like:
Service coordination
Parent information and education
Professional and volunteer advocacy support to access complex systems of service
Family reimbursement to obtain otherwise unaffordable support

These services save New York State additional expense, by allowing people with disabilities to remain in their family homes or to live as independently as possible without reliance on more costly publicly-funded residential and day programs, and public benefits.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration

Your signature and address (address is important so they know it is a valid letter).

2. On-line Advocacy:

If you prefer sending your correspondence on-line go here and fill out the form. You can personalize it with your own details--in fact, please do!

3. Go to your legislators' offices. In your home town, or in the capitol. Take pictures for your newsletter, your website, your Facebook page and for your suburban newspaper.

4. Go to the hearings. Rally. Gather (and remember uniting does not require uniformity--join cross-disability actions to be heard.) Invite the media.

5. Keep hope. California succeeded with a class action suit to halt similarly ill-thought out legislation last week.

Picture from here.


terena said...

It is so frustrating. it is exactly what has been happening here in California. Massive budget cuts, a decrease in services, and the safety net that protects people with disabilities has large holes in it now. I've written letters, made calls, attended meetings, gone to rallies, and nothing worked. The cuts came and now we're all left scrambling.

But I think not giving up is the most important thing. Sure, the cuts happened, but if they think we're just going to go away quietly now, they're delusional. The important thing is to keep shouting and letting them know that people with disabilities are not weak and helpless. And we who care for them and love them will never stop fighting.

Hopeless? no. It's hopeless when we quit.

Terri said...

Thanks, Terena! These are hard times and we know it... and there is lots of discretionary spending that needs to be put on hold before the state puts people who have nowhere else to go on the line. There is a certain program in our town getting $$ for a facelift for their building--this project brings no federal matching money into the state... this project once funded does not then spend its money in the local community at anywhere near the level that the disability-service organizations do... We cannot give up.