NY ranks 33rd in country for employing disabled.

Each year 300,000 young people with disabilities age into what should be the workforce. Sadly, despite the fact that most want to work, the majority do not get jobs. This costs them the dignity and income of work, while it robs employers and our nation of the benefits of their many talents. However, new data from the Disability Compendium shows that in states where leaders, employers and people with disabilities do the right things, people with disabilities are twice as likely to have jobs than in other states.

read more…




Advocacy on Minimum Wage Continues

Reach Out to the Governor and State Legislators

The Issue: The Governor’s proposed budget contains an increase in the state’s minimum wage. The proposal

does not include necessary public funds to support the minimum wage increases for Direct Support Professionals, special education staff and other low-wage workers whose rate is set by the State.

Staff who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, behavioral health issues and other disabilities deserve wage increases however funds need to accompany state mandated increases. Advocacy is important and timely.  Therefore, participation in this effort is important. You can do this in one or two ways:

What Can You Do?: Call and/or write the Governor, your State Senator,h and your State Assemblymember this week. 

The message is simple: We support increases in the state’s minimum wage and respectfully urge Governor Cuomo to fund the Executive Budget proposal. Such funding is critical to the health, safety and well-being of people with I/DD, behavioral health issues and other disabilities. It’s the right thing to do for our dedicated and caring workforce. 

Here’s how to share your message:

 Call the Governor’s Office at (518) 474 -1041 and press 3 to speak to an assistant.  

Another way to contact the Governor and State Legislators is to use the IAC’s website to  automatically send emails and find your local legislators to urge the Governor to fund his minimum wage proposal in the 30-day budget amendments. To use the IAC action function, go to; http://capwiz.com/iacny/home/

 Once you click the link, click on the box that says “take action”.  If you want printed letters click the circle on the right next to “printed letters” then fill in the sender information.

Note: It is especially important that the Governor hears from Direct Support Professionals, Education staff, and other low-wage workers.

Send this message to your staff, families and groups. As a constituent,f you are very important to the Governor and your elected officials and it’s important to advocate for the issues that are important to you.

Printed letters can also be generated and sent to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

It Matters to Me – We need you to advocate and support the ARC

November 6, 2015

Dear Friends, Family, Stakeholders, Advocates:

In conjunction with NYSARC chapters from throughout the state, Schenectady ARC is launching an It Matters to Me campaign. The intent of this initiative is to draw attention to critical issues affecting people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families.  We ask that you participate in several ways. 

Please write letters to Governor Cuomo urging his support.  You may copy the sample letter below and mail it. Or, write a personal letter explaining your specific situation and the way in which one or more of the issues directly affects your family; send that letter to the Governor and to the list of legislators, which follows below.

  1. Join us as we visit our legislators during the upcoming weeks. Please contact Nedda Hernandez (845.267-2500 ext. 3275) to add your name to the list of people who will meet with our elected officials.   Telling your story in person is a powerful way to convey the urgency of your concern.
  2. Visit our Facebook page to view the It Matters to Me video that touches on our primary issues.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the points listed below:

 What Matters to People Who Care about People with Developmental Disabilities;

  • That residential and day opportunities keep pace with the need.
  • That employment options include choice and opportunity to remain in non-competitive work settings.
  • That Direct Support Professionals receive fair compensation for their undeniably vital work.
  • That adequate funding support preschools that educate children with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Many such schools currently operate at a deficit.

 We desperately need your support.  Please add your voices to the thousands of voices speaking out now about issues that matter to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families. 


 Schenectady ARC

Template Letter to Governor

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

I am writing to you as a (IDENTIFY RELATIONSHIP: PARENT, SIBLING, CAREGIVER, FRIEND, ETC.) of a person with developmental disabilities. I, along with thousands of other family members, am extremely concerned about the future of needed programs and services that are critical to the well-being of people with developmental disabilities.

The field of developmental disabilities is facing enormous challenges and supports for people have started eroding. Among the challenges is a shortage of residential opportunities for people living at home, particularly for those whose family members who are elderly and may be coping with health problems of their own; difficulty in recruiting and retaining direct support staff due to inadequate wages; the lack of employment opportunities for people who wish to work in the community or remain in a viable work center; and acutely inadequate funding for special-needs preschool services.

(TELL YOUR STORY HERE: Pick the one or two issues most critical to you and tell the Governor how it impacts you personally, your family and/or your loved one with a developmental disability, as well as your community.)

As you prepare the state budget for the next fiscal year, I hope you consider all of these issues and are willing to increase funding to help us provide needed residential opportunities, a living wage for direct support staff, an adequate inflationary increase for special-needs preschools, and enhanced employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. On behalf of myself and my (IDENTIFY RELATIONSHIP), I am personally asking for your help in making sure my (IDENTIFY RELATIONSHIP TO PERSON AND/OR ISSUE) has access to the services (HE/SHE/THEY) need.

Governor, thousands of family members and people with developmental disabilities would be enormously grateful to you for including resources in this year’s budget to begin to ensure that critical programs and services will be available to those who are in need.

We are depending on you.


Schenectady County Legislators

110th Assembly District


Parts of City of Schenectady)

Phil Steck – D

Legislative Office Building

Room 819

Albany, NY 12248


District Office 

1609 Union Street

Schenectady, NY 12309

(518) 377-0902

111th Assembly District

(Duanesburgh, Princetown, Rotterdam, 

Parts of City of Schenectady)

Angelo Santabarbara – D

Legislative Office Building

Room 833

Albany, NY 12248


District Office

433 State Street

Schenectady, NY 12305

(518) 382-2941

112th Assembly District

(Town of Glenville)

James Tedisco – R

Legislative Office Building

Room 404

Albany, NY 12248


State Senator

46th Senate District

(Duanesburg, Princetown, Rotterdam,

Parts of the City of Schenectady)

George Amedore – R

Legislative Office Building

Room 311

Albany, NY 12247

(518) 455-2350

49th Senate District

(Glenville, Niskayuna,

Parts of the City of Schenectady)

Hugh Farley – R

Legislative Office Building

Room 711

Albany, NY 12247 


Support for People with Developmental Disabilities

The Assembly held a hearing Tuesday on services and support for people with developmental disabilities, and experts who testified outlined some big concerns. Those ranged from access to quality pre-school programs for kids to what to do about adults who are currently being cared for by aging parents, and also included financial concerns for individuals with disabilities and the workers who help them. NYSARC President Laura Kennedy and NYSARC Executive Director Steve Kroll join us to discuss.

Watch it here

U.S. Senate Passes Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

The U.S. Senate approved a measure to allow individuals with disabilities to set up a special needs trust for themselves.  Such trusts are currently prohibited.  The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Senator Charles Grassley along with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, allows an individual to set up a trust without compromising the receipt of government benefits such as Medicaid or SSI.  To read Senator Grassley’s press release announcing the passage of the bill, go to: http://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/senate-passes-bill-help-individuals-disabilities-set-special-needs-trusts

August is Hot on Social Security, Medicaid – Get Ready to Advocate with Congress

Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and other lifeline programs for people with I/DD are under attack. It’s time to act! We are calling on all chapters of The Arc to visit your Members of Congress during the August recess.

Advocate with your Members of Congress. The August recess is fast approaching, so now is the time to ask questions, and make your plans for visits. Here are the dates they will be back in your state:

House of Representatives:

August Recess July 31 – September 7


August Recess August 10 – September 7

You can take action in August to engage your representatives to help prevent dismantling of our lifeline. Learn about the latest attacks, get tips for setting up your visits, and receive fact sheets and talking points for your use in the meetings.

We need chapters and advocates to engage with your Members of Congress – now is the time to act, whether you already have a relationship with your Members of Congress or this is your first time engaging at this level. We need YOU to show Members of Congress why the lifeline programs are so vital to the lives and independence of people with I/DD.

Help Students with Disabilities to Meet State Education Standards – Call Your Senators Today

The Senate is scheduled to begin debate the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) on July 7. While the bill includes important provisions that support students with disabilities, it still does not include two critical requirements: 1) school intervention when groups of students (including students with disabilities) are not meeting state standards; and 2) full certification for teachers. 

Presently, the ECAA only requires intervention and support for schools that fail to meet state performance standards overall, rather than for schools where any subgroups of students (including those with disabilities) fail to meet those standards.  Language must be included that assures targeted instruction and other supports when student groups in any school do not meet reading, math or graduation goals.

The current version of the ECAA eliminated the “highly qualified” provision for teachers, requiring only that they be state certified.  States have multiple levels of certification, some of which do not reflect full preparation or full qualification, such as temporary or provisional certification.   

What To Say:

  • I am a member of The Arc.
  • I am calling to ask Senator _________ to support the amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act on student group accountability.
  • We must ensure that student groups that are not meeting state-set academic and graduation goals for two years or more are provided targeted intervention and instructional support.
  • I am also calling to ask that a requirement be added for teachers to be “fully” certified. Students with disabilities are disproportionately taught by teachers who are not fully prepared to be teachers.
  • Students with disabilities deserve accountability and qualified teachers so that they can be prepared for work or college.

 Take Action 

Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever Garnering Attention

Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever Garnering Attention 

All your letters, editorials, stories, and media interviews are paying off! The “Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever” campaign has caught the attention of policymakers. NYSARC is meeting with members of the Legislature and the Governor’s staff to highlight the critical importance of providing supports to aging parents caring for their adult child with developmental disabilities at home.

But our work is far from done…

On Thursday, Feb. 26 at 1 pm, NYSARC will hold a press conference in Albany asking the Legislature and the Governor to designate $30 million to fund an additional 3,500 opportunities for people living at home in need of supports or out-of-home residential care. At the press event, families from across the state, joined by NYSARC leaders, will share their personal stories.

In addition to the press conference, NYSARC Chapters have recorded and posted compelling video testimonials with aging parents sharing their concerns. One particular video has generated more than 10,000 views and 100 shares. To watch these videos, visit NYSARC’s Facebook page.

After watching these videos, visit the “Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever” website at take action. Click here to visit the website. Send an editable message to your legislator or to the Governor. Sign a petition to the Governor or share your story. Finally, view links to newspaper editorials, letters to the editor, and feature articles from across the state.

To date, more than 1,900 emails and petitions have been sent to the Governor and legislators. We’ve accomplished a crucial step in gaining the administration’s attention. But we still have a long way to go toward accomplishing our goal. Keep urging everyone you know to participate in the campaign … and proclaiming that “Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever.”