Families of disabled adults claimed a victory Friday night, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill giving them a chance to go before a judge and plead their cases about why they should be allowed to stay in their current facilities.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, the families are crediting a story earlier this week on CBS2 for getting Cuomo’s signature on a bill supporting their cause.
The state had wanted to move Cheryl Lloyd’s 22-year-old son from his current facility, but his mother said the new place is just plain dangerous.
“There is no way they’re going to bring my son here,” Lloyd told CBS2’s Jessica Schneider.
Lloyd said she was devastated by the trash-littered, run-down apartment in East New York, Brooklyn, the state says her 22-year-old autistic son must move to from his current care facility just south of Boston.
“The pain is so great because my son deserves better than this,” she said.
Christopher Linton went to live at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Massachusetts when he was just 8 years old because the state didn’t have adequate facilities for him and the more than 400 others with similar disabilities in New York.To put it mildly, however, not all have had a good experience at Rotenberg.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed legislation intended to clear what one lawmaker said in June was a waiting list of 12,000 disabled individuals who needed services or housing.
Cuomo said the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities keeps improving its processing, that the legislation largely duplicates what's already happening, and the issue should have been addressed in the budget.
"The bill would unnecessarily divert valuable staff and financial resources from this effort and would also impose additional unbudgeted costs," he said in a message accompanying the veto Friday night.
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg said Monday he hopes the delays in helping disabled New Yorkers will be addressed in the upcoming budget, adding that Cuomo's funding proposal for this year didn't provide enough money, and this year's roll-out of the so-called "front door process" that funnels applications to the state agency instead of the nonprofit service providers was "bungled."
His bill would have required the developmental disabilities office to report by Jan. 1 to legislators with plans to improve and expedite application reviews with clear and consistent guidelines.
The office did not immediately reply Monday to a query about how many disabled individuals are currently on a waiting list for services.
Seth Stein, executive director and counsel for Alliance of Long Island Agencies, representing about 40 service providers, said their recent survey found the service delays persist, especially for thousands of autistic individuals who at 21 are leaving school-based special education services. While slow processing may still be an impediment, he said there aren't enough services for the "demographic bulge" of children with autism now needing them, whether that's from better assessments or higher incidence.