FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — More than 100,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities live in group homes. They range in age from 3 to 99.
But now those who run the homes have been warned about looming budget cuts. Families fear drastic changes could affect the quality of life for their vulnerable loved ones, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.
“It’s a very emotional subject, having your disabled child living in a group home,” said Randy Lang of East Northport.
However, Lang said his son, Casey, is thriving in a group home. So is Bryan DeBiase, according to his mom.
“We love him. We have him home with us every other weekend,” Valerie DeBiase said.
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But now, it’s that time with family away from the group home setting that has parents feeling vulnerable and worried.
“This is unconscionable. The state is punishing families for staying connected,” Long Island Assemblyman Michael LiPetri said. “It’s threatening to erode the fiscal stability of our residential support system and we will not tolerate this.”
Advocates for New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities say they were blindsided by a round of cuts — 50% reduction in reimbursements for temporary empty beds on days when the resident is gone visiting family, or in the hospital.
“I can’t cut my staffing. I can’t not pay my mortgage. I can’t turn the heat down or the air conditioning down. My costs are still the same,” said Thomas Hopkins, CEO of Epic Long Island.
The state, which is already struggling with cuts to make up a deficit, has garnered huge expenses from fighting the coronavirus pandemic. However, advocates said they don’t think New York’s most vulnerable population should bear the burden.
In defending its budget saving plans, the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities said, “… there are no changes to the services provided as a result of this targeted approach.”
Still, families said they fear it will result in staff cuts.
“These people are uniquely qualified,” Valerie DeBiase said.
“But what is his quality of life about?” Lang added.
A final decision is expected in Albany this week.
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