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We Have Choices


November 10, 2008

As you probably know, on October 21, my Office initiated a statewide suspension of all progress on the development of day and residential services that would result in new capital or operating costs.

There have been rumors flying that OMRDD is permanently halting all development. I want you to hear it from me: We are NOT permanently halting all development. Due to the state’s fiscal situation, we had to pause to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the status of all development of day and residential services. We will have a better picture in a couple of weeks of how to proceed based upon available resources. (Please note that some projects that were days from actually opening were already allowed to do so because we confirmed the availability of resources for them). 

Once we complete our analysis and understand the resources we will have available going forward, we will begin to communicate decisions regarding what happens to the projects currently in the holding pattern. Rest assured, my Executive team and my DDSO directors are already poised to work closely with individuals, families and not-for-profit organizations that are affected by these decisions.  The State’s fiscal crisis is severe and we are being thoughtful and careful in addressing its impact across the State with compassion, sensitivity and a focus on health and safety.  
On November 4, 2008, the New York State Division of Budget (DOB) issued a Budget Bulletin to all State agencies outlining new agency spending controls. This Bulletin requires further clarification from DOB before we can determine its exact impact on our development and operating plans. While it is likely we will not have the total picture until the Governor’s Executive Budget is released on December 16, our goal will be to share interim decisions we are confident we can make along the way to this date.    

I know you have questions and concerns and while I do not have all of the answers at this time, my team and I are working diligently to try to get those answers. I also want you to know that everyone on my team works with an open-door policy.  Do not let rumors overtake you; we are all in this together and will weather this by working together – not against each other. We will make every effort to keep you as fully informed as possible. 

The bottom line is that the entire OMRDD family remains committed to our mission of helping people with developmental disabilities live richer lives. This includes our steadfast commitment to quality, to health and safety, to Putting People First and to providing individualized and person-centered supports and services.

Please feel free to contact your respective DDSO to discuss your concerns.  Their numbers and other ways to contact me or my team are accessible on the OMRDD Web site or by calling our toll-free Info Line at (866) 946-9733; TTY: (866) 933-4889.


Diana Jones Ritter,
Commissioner, NYS OMRDD

Letter from Commissioner Ritter to self-advocates and family members


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