Thousands of New York State citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities are waiting for placement in a community residential setting, and many are in immediate need. The state has not provided an adequate way for families to plan for the future when providing care at home becomes difficult or impossible. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families face an onerous placement process without a clear understanding of that process or the extent of their wait.
However, while thousands await suitable placements, many residential vacancies go unfilled.
Vacancies within certified residential settings have grown in recent years because of an administrative requirement to fill the opening with someone from the “Emergency Need” placement category. Often, the care needs and behaviors of these individuals are incompatible with the home in which the vacancy exists. In these cases, the vacancy remains unfilled, despite the fact it may be a suitable placement for individuals from the Current Need or Substantial Need categories.
Offering housing almost solely on an emergency basis, makes it impossible to guarantee placements will be found in the most appropriate, least restrictive home environment. These restrictions also lessen the individual’s opportunity for choice in their own housing.
We are working with OPWDD to improve the flexibility and timeliness of the placement process, to more expeditiously place individuals into available vacancies that compatible with their needs. The Arc New York will also continue to collaborate with Keep the Promise Family Coalition to advocate for solutions.
We continue to advocate for increased residential development, and an improved placement process, especially for people living at home with aging caregivers. We propose the following actions be taken to ensure there is sufficient residential development to meet the growing need:
- transparently assess the number of people who have requested or need residential services and keep a wait list with a publicly available summary;
- streamline the eligibility process so that people on the wait list can have their eligibility rapidly assessed and established;
- make administrative enhancements necessary to more efficiently match people seeking placement with existing vacancies; and
- provide capital and operating funds to establish as many new residential opportunities as necessary to meet the needs of New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly for those individuals with behavioral and psychological needs.