New York state has completed a five-year plan meant to strengthen services and programs for people with disabilities in the state.
The new plan, though, points to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and a significant workforce shortage for people who provide support to New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.
There has also been an increase in the number of children and adults in New York who are in need of additional clinical support and have complex behavioral and medical needs.
"The New York dream should be a reality for everyone in our state, including people with developmental disabilities," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "This five-year plan provides a comprehensive roadmap to strengthen supports and enhance services statewide for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities - helping to build a more inclusive, equitable state for all."
The plan was first put in place under a law approved by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo meant to strengthen services and assess challenges in the sector. The findings include the need to strengthen the workforce as well as housing programs while also expanding support programs for people with complicated medical needs.
Non-profit organizations have over the last year raised alarms over their deepening workforce needs and a push to raise salaries for support aides amid a churn of employees that aligned with the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, lawmakers and the governor agreed to increase pay for these workers while also trying to find longer-term ways of growing the workforce.
"I am very proud to release the agency's strategic plan that will serve as our guide for improving the experience that people with developmental disabilities and their families have within our system and in their lives," New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said. "The final plan represents the highest-priority goals and objectives of our stakeholders for OPWDD to pursue and will direct the agency's focus over the coming years."