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We Have Choices

Comments on OMRDD’s Five-Year
Comprehensive 507 Plan: 2008 – 2013

September 8, 2008

Introductory Statement from the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS)

David Liscomb, President of SANYS

Good Afternoon Commissioner Ritter,

Once again we want thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony about OMRDD’s plans for the next five years. But more importantly, we want to thank you for listening to  us and learning from us over the last few years on your tour with other State Agency Commissioners, previous hearings and in meetings with leaders of our organization. We see much of what SANYS has recommended over the past years reflected in OMRDD’s plan and that makes us feel that the plan is truly a reflection of the partnership we have with you and your staff.  Our partnership is part of a shared commitment we have to create a People First point of view in all the supports that OMRDD offers and within our system in general. 

Today, I am going to give you some specific comments related to the 5 Year Plan.  Several others SANYS board members and self-advocates will read additional sections of our statement.

The first thing we want to talk about is the budget crisis facing the State of New York and OMRDD.  We all know from our daily lives, from the cost food and gas, from people we know who have lost a job, to people that are worrying about how to pay for fuel to heat their homes this winter, that all of us as citizens are facing some challenging times.  We think the Governor is right to be aggressive about dealing with this challenge and we know that funds to state agencies like OMRDD could be reduced in the coming years. 

We intend to focus our advocacy efforts on making sure that the voice of self-advocates has influence over all the decisions that are made about cuts in supports.

We have shared thoughts with you in private meetings but we would like to share them here publicly.  We think that if cuts need to be made, OMRDD should not use an across the board approach.  OMRDD should assure the development of new initiatives for individualized and person controlled services as discussed in Chapter 4 by at least maintaining current funding levels for these supports and over time redirecting funds from more traditional services to individualized supports. Other parts of our statement will address these supports more specifically.

A second issue, we want speak to relates to the idea of Putting People First.  We want to make sure that this idea holds true for every single support and every place that OMRDD offers supports.  

We have shared with you our concerns about some of the serious incidents that have occurred over the last few years. In response to these incidents we have said that we believe our system is not broken. But we feel there room for improvement. Promoting People First is the perfect way to keep the focus on the people who receive supports and we want to help you do that. But we are concerned about Civil Service and some union practices that sometimes seem to conflict with people’s choices and needs.

We want to make sure that People First is reflected in all policies and practices as well as in all the hearts and minds of all of those who work within the system for those of us with development disabilities. We look forward to having more conversations with you about these issues.


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