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Families partner with government to address housing and service crisis

by jmaloni

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Wed, Dec 4th 2013 08:05 am

Legislative representatives to attend Developmental Disability Alliance of WNY family committee breakfast

Family members of individuals with disabilities and their respective legislative representatives will meet to continue their dialogue in seeking safe, appropriate solutions to the crisis facing people with developmental disabilities and their families. Families and legislative defenders will attend a breakfast meeting Friday, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., at the Millennium Hotel Buffalo. The Developmental Disability Alliance of WNY family committee hosts the event.

DDAWNY staffers said state budget constraints have led to a critical level of unmet needs for many people with developmental disabilities. Paired with a lack of a comprehensive plan by New York state to address the growing need for services for people with disabilities, the situation has become a crisis, placing insurmountable challenges on family members to provide adequate care.

"This will be the third consecutive year we have planned a meeting with our local elected officials to bring attention to the more than 12,000 individuals with disabilities who are on a wait list for a safe, acceptable home or residential placement across New York state, more than 1000 of who are Western New Yorkers. For the first time, this year we are also challenged with the fact that many young adults that have graduated at age 21 have no traditional day services, or sheltered work opportunities that allow them to contribute to their community," said Barbara DeLong, co-chair of the DDAWNY family committee and the mother of a young adult with developmental disabilities. "It is imperative that families and the legislators clarify the magnitude and details of these challenges."

The DDAWNY family committee has set a goal to highlight the needs of this vulnerable segment of New York's population so that legislators and key stakeholders fully understand the situation at hand and its immediate effect on the community, and the families who are left unaided.

"Our goal is to have safe and affordable living situations for our loved ones, based on their individual strengths and needs," said Max Donatelli, co-chair of DDAWNY family committee. "We would like to see people with developmental disabilities living in the community of their choice with people they choose to live with, along with the necessary services and supports to have a full, productive and meaningful life."

"Gov. Cuomo made a promise to protect vulnerable children and families," DeLong said. "We want to remind him of that important promise so we never return to the dark days of Willowbrook."

WIVB-TV's Al Vaughters will serve as guest moderator and master of ceremonies for the event, which is sponsored by Parkview Health and First Niagara Bank.

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