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.”

Schenectady ARC Headed to State Capitol for Legislative Visit

Schenectady ARC will join NYSACRA and NYSRA as they host their annual Legislative Event on Monday and Tuesday, February 9th and 10th in the Hart Lounge of The Egg at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.  The day and a half event will highlight panel discussions on managed care as well as employment for people with disabilities as well as a briefing on the 2015-16 Executive Budget proposal.  Deputy Secretary for Health, Courtney Burke, will kick off the 2015 Legislative Event.  NYSACRA and NYSRA encourage you to come to Albany on February 9th and 10th to hear from State Legislators and key state officials on the issues important to agencies, direct support professionals, people with disabilities and family members.

To register, go to: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ea6jo6f8e203a849&llr=hmdybgfab

Governor’s Employment First Commission Seeks Public Comment – Hosting Listening Sessions

On September 17, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order #136 (http://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/archive/governor_files/documents/EmploymentFirstCommissionExecutiveOrder.pdf) establishing the New York Employment First Initiative to Increase Employment of New Yorkers with Disabilities.  Through EO 136, the Employment First Commissioner was created.  The Governor’s Office is seeking public comment to assist the Employment First Commission with creating an Employment First Policy for New York.  Interested individuals may submit comments and suggestions to the Commission via the email address: employmentfirst@exec,ny.gov

Two listening sessions have been scheduled and individuals may present oral testimony to the Commission.  The first session will be held on January 29th from 3PM – 5PM in New York City (location to be announced).  The second session will be held on February 2nd from 1PM – 3PM in Albany (location to be announced).  For more information, go to:  http://programs.governor.ny.gov/olmstead/home

The Commission seeks input in the following areas:  policies and procedures to eliminate barriers or disincentives for the employment of individuals with disabilities, strategies to maximize opportunities to hire individuals with disabilities, creating more opportunities for students with disabilities transitioning from educational settings to competitive integrated employment as the first option, or any other matter you believe to be important to the Commission’s purpose.