Affiliate Update 2013

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11-19-13 CP NEWS

11/19/2013 1:57:25 PM

An HTML version of the 11-19-13 CP News can be found here.


11/19/13 Affiliate Update
(Volume #19 – Issue #13)


Assemblymember Harvey Weisenberg (D-Nassau) sent a letter regarding the implementation of Section 16.34 of the Mental Hygiene Law, which requires background checks for prospective employees in agencies licensed by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).  Section 16.34 of the Mental Hygiene Law requires background checks for applicants who were employed in the OPWDD voluntary system prior to July 1, 2013, the date on which the Justice Center began operations.  The 16.34 checks have been hampered by long processing delays which have significantly impeded the hiring of critical direct support staff and others.  These hiring delays threaten the quality of services and are extremely problematic.  

Assemblymember Weisenberg’s letter to OPWDD Acting Commissioner Kelley says that he believes “… the matter can be remedied through either agency regulatory changes or through program adjustments.  If you believe a legislative remedy is warranted, please know that I would be interested in sponsoring legislation to assist in facilitating these essential background checks.”

Resolution of this issue is extremely important to OPWDD, the voluntary field and everyone it serves.

-Barbara Crosier


Nearly 700 staff, volunteers, people with disabilities and members of their families gathered in Saratoga Springs October 21-23 for the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS) Annual Conference. More than 60 speakers conducted nearly 50 educational presentations and Conference sessions.

The Conference began on October 21 with a Keynote presentation at the opening luncheon by Laurie Kelley, Acting Commissioner, New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).  Monday and Tuesday offered informative sessions for people with disabilities on employment, estate planning, sports and recreation for people with disabilities, and technical and clinical issues including the latest in research on cerebral palsy and innovative programs in autism and special education. The Conference concluded on Wednesday, October 23 with a session by sportscaster Jason Benetti.

The Conference also included two awards dinners honoring individuals and organizations from around the state. For a complete wrap-up of the 2013 Annual Conference, including speaker handouts, a list of award winners, photos and other news, please visit the Conference web page at the following link:

Mark your calendar now! The 54th CP of NYS Annual Conference will be held October 20-22, 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in Albany.

-Al Shibley

Visions of New York Art Contest Poster
CP of NYS President and CEO Susan Constantino (left,) Shelli Prespare-Weston, the mother of art contest winner Geill Shippee, and OPWDD Acting Commissioner Laurie Kelley (right) with the 2013 Visions of New York art contest commemorative poster.

Jason Benetti
Jason Benetti makes a point during his closing session at the 2013 Annual Conference.


Federal Judge Rules New York City in Violation of the ADA for Failing to Accommodate Needs of Individuals with Disabilities During Tropical Storm Irene

The Federal District Court in Manhattan found that New York City was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities before and during emergencies related to Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The Federal Judge found that the city failed to develop evacuation plans for people with disabilities who lived in high-rise buildings based on evidence that people were not able to get out of their apartments, had no water or heat, and had to wait days for help. The city’s evacuation plans relied on the flawed assumption that everyone could evacuate using stairs and inaccessible public transportation.

DOB Releases Mid-Year Update to the Financial Plan Report

The New York State Division of the Budget (DOB) last week released the Mid-Year Update to the Financial Plan to evaluate factors impacting the state’s financial condition and to update revenue and disbursement projections.  DOB estimates the state General Fund to remain in balance for the remainder of the current year based on operating results through September.  The budget deficit projections remain unchanged from the First Quarterly Update report in August:  $1.7 billion for next year, state fiscal year (SFY) 2014-2015; and $2.9 billion in each of the following two years, SFY 2015-2016 and SFY 2016-2017.  The state’s financial plan projections will be updated again in January when the SFY 2014-2015 Executive Budget is released.

Medicaid Spending on Track with Global Cap Projections Through Five Months

The Department of Health’s (DOH) August 2013 Medicaid Global Spending Cap Report shows that expenditures are $29 million (0.4%) under projections through the first five months of state fiscal year (SFY) 2013-2014. State share DOH Medicaid spending for SFY 2013-2014 is capped at $16.4 billion. Medicaid enrollment reached 5,366,272 enrollees at the end of August 2013, representing an increase of about 115,200 enrollees (2.2%) since March 2013.

Federal Mental Health Parity Regulations to be Published This Week

The Obama Administration has announced that the final regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) will be published in the Federal Register this week.  The law is a significant breakthrough for ensuring that large group health insurance plans that offer mental health and substance abuse coverage do not impose less favorable benefit limits than what is applied to medical or surgical coverage.  This will mean that the treatment limitations or cost sharing cannot be significantly more limiting than what is applied to other medical benefits.  The law applies mainly to non-Federal governmental plans with more than 100 employees and to group health plans of private employers with more than 50 employees.  Disability advocates had been urging the Department of Health and Human Services to finalize these regulations to help clarify how this law will be implemented and to help define how it will interact with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA included mental health and substance abuse coverage as one of the ten essential health benefits that must be provided by plans sold in the new marketplace.

Federal Department of Transportation:
•    Issues Regulations to Airlines Requiring Them to Make Their Webpages Accessible
The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued regulations that require airlines to make their webpages that contain “core travel information and services” accessible within two years. In three years, the websites must be completely accessible. Within 10 years, at least 25 percent of kiosks at every airport must be accessible. The rules will apply to all domestic airlines and all of those who fly to and from the US. In the meantime, passengers who cannot access the current websites must be offered web-based discounts. DOT also published final rules giving airlines more flexibility about how manual wheelchairs are stowed, allowing that two manual folding wheelchairs can be transported at a time.
•    Fines US Airways
DOT fined US Airways $1.2 million for failing to accommodate passengers with disabilities using wheelchairs in Philadelphia and Charlotte. Under DOT’s rules implementing the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are required to provide free, prompt wheelchair assistance upon request to passengers with disabilities.  This includes helping passengers to move between gates and make connections to other flights. The fine is one of the largest ever assessed by DOT in a disability case.

-Barbara Crosier


Barbara Crosier 

Barbara Crosier, Vice President, Government Relations at CP of NYS, was honored at Franziska Racker Centers’ annual awards breakfast in Ithaca on November 13. Ms. Crosier received The Special Friend Award, which is given to a community member in recognition for support, service and devotion to Franziska Racker Centers and its ideals.  In his introduction, Executive Director Dan Brown lauded Ms. Crosier for her ongoing efforts on behalf of CP of NYS Affiliates and the people they support. He cited her leadership of a successful statewide advocacy effort last spring in response to a proposed 6% cut in funding for supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.

The breakfast also recognized Inspiration Award winners Kathy Lind and Guy Stillman, Pat Montanez as the recipient of this year's Franziska Racker Award and Cornell Companions as the Brick Miscall Award winner. The organization also honored eight employees with 25 years of service at Franziska Racker Centers.

-Al Shibley


A $2.4 million grant through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Homes & Community Renewal's Unified Funding Application will help Happiness House construct a 20,000 square foot, two story wood frame and brick building to serve adults with traumatic brain injuries, intellectual/developmental disabilities, or any individual who is eligible for affordable housing. The new facility will be built on their current campus in Canandaigua. This 20 unit, non-certified residence will have 18 one bedroom units and a pair of two bedroom units, each with a living room, small kitchen and bathroom. This Living Center will also be equipped with a community room, kitchen, laundry facilities and office space.

”We are very fortunate, given the state of this economy, to be afforded this opportunity to expand our services and it’s imperative that we continue to look for alternative, cost effective ways to provide needed services in the future,” said Mary Walsh Boatfield, Happiness House CEO. The Living Center will also be supported by a grant from The New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, as well as very generous gifts from community funders who provided funding for engineering and start-up costs for this project.

-Al Shibley


Bill Reilly, a CP of NYS staffer in our finance department, participated in the NYC marathon earlier this month. The NYC race was his 30th career marathon, including multiple appearances in some of the biggest races in the world, including both Boston and NYC. Bill has a team of supporters who help keep him on track during his more than 7 hours on the course. Bill navigates the course backwards in a specially designed racing chair. Team Bill consists of Harold Chayefsky, Jessica Lynn, Wendy Furtado, Ariel Krieger and Alice Lim. Bill is pictured below with some of his team at the 2013 NYC Marathon.

Louis Pelino, Administrator of Residential Services – Queens, at CP of NYS, ran the race of his life, establishing a personal best time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 57 seconds.

Queens Centers for Progress (QCP) also had some staff participate in the New York City event.  QCP employee Juana Rosario completed the race in 4 hours and 43 minutes.  Team QCP recruited volunteers to run in support of the organization and together raised about $20,000.  For more on Team QCP, view the video at the following link:

-Al Shibley

Team Bill
Team Bill – left to right Wendy Futado, Ariel Krieger and Harold Chayefsky; Bill Reilly is in front

Team Bill near the finish 
Team Bill near the finish    

David Fraser
David Fraser (foreground in dark cap), from CP of NYS completed the race in 9:34:36

Louis Pellino
Louis Pellino

Team QCP
Team QCP member during the NYC Marathon


OPWDD Justice Center Requirements Update
The NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) recently issued a memorandum addressing two Justice Center requirements.

The memo addresses the process change for investigators of abuse and neglect to notify subjects or suspects at the start of an investigation and the process requesting Statewide Central Registry (SCR) checks for subjects or suspects in abuse and neglect cases.

The memorandum and SCR Check Request form can be accessed at the following link:

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