Seeks additional public comment on plan developed in collaboration with stakeholders to enhance system of supports
The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has released the agency’s 2023-2027 draft strategic plan for public review and comment.
“This draft strategic plan represents a new direction informed by our stakeholders throughout a significant feedback process,” said Kerri E. Neifeld, OPWDD commissioner. “With the input and support of all of our stakeholders – people who receive services, their families, advocates, provider agencies and care coordination organizations – it presents an agreed-upon course of action, a shared vision of our top priorities and the activities and projects we will undertake to achieve them.”
A press release said, “The draft strategic plan, now available on OPWDD’s website, represents the culmination of an extensive planning process undertaken in 2021 in collaboration with OPWDD’s stakeholders and service system partners throughout New York state. The draft plan articulates a concise roadmap for moving forward to address today’s concerns while also innovating and improving the system to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of people needing support. It sets a course for all parties to pursue together and will serve as a guidepost to ensure continued focus on the most important priorities.
“Throughout the planning process, stakeholders made clear that significant support is needed for direct support professionals who keep the system delivering services and who have provided dedicated, tireless support for the people who have needed them throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and for acknowledging the value this workforce brings to New Yorkers with and without developmental disabilities. In addition, stakeholders called for things like better housing supports for people with developmental disabilities, improved crisis services, expanded capacity to understand and meet the needs of children, an improved self-direction program and greater agency transparency.”
The draft strategic plan is said to address these needs “by first articulating overarching thematic goals that set OPWDD’s overall course, and then describing specific initiatives and activities that OPWDD will undertake in pursuit of those goals … projects that will impact all parts of New York’s developmental disabilities service system.”
It outlines initiatives that have begun and new endeavors that will launch in the weeks and months ahead. Funds that have become available to OPWDD through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are already being used to promote many of the activities and projects contained in the draft plan “and are providing well-timed support and momentum for achieving the plan’s three fundamental goals: greater person-centered support for people with developmental disabilities, strengthening the vital direct support workforce and OPWDD’s operational infrastructure, and advancing systems change and innovation throughout the service system.”
With release of the draft strategic plan, OPWDD invites the public to provide comment by participating in one of two virtual public hearings on the draft plan. Hearings will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 8, and from 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 9. To listen to the hearings, visit this link. To request to speak at the hearings follow this link to register.
OPWDD will also collect feedback on the draft plan through an online form or by email at [email protected]. In addition, OPWDD will schedule in-person opportunities for interested parties to comment on the draft plan throughout the summer months in locations soon to be announced across the state.
OPWDD will consider all feedback received and use it to finalize the draft strategic plan for submission to the New York State Legislature by Nov. 1.
“The final strategic plan will set our course for the next five years, and I am excited about the goals and plans it contains, and hopeful about what it represents for the people we support – our friends, neighbors, co-workers and loved ones with developmental disabilities,” Neifeld said.
Mike Alvaro, president and CEO of Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS, said, "We are pleased that OPWDD is releasing the 5.07 strategic plan and we're thrilled to learn that the intent is for it to evolve and grow over time in response to the needs of people with disabilities and their families across New York state. We welcome the partnership Commissioner Neifeld has offered in the plan's systemic response to improving the quality of life and options for people with disabilities, and we are committed to working together to maximize resources through innovative, adaptive responses in creating a variety of supports and services in the years ahead."
People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick said, “People Inc. is proud to be working together with the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities in their strategic planning process. The 5.07 plan will set the course for the future of supports and services to New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. It is essential that OPWDD and the service providers work together toward the same goals and having a shared vision is crucial. The 5.07 plan will be that vehicle, and People Inc. looks forward to the future.”
Erik Geizer, CEO of The Arc New York, said, “As the largest nonprofit I/DD provider in the state, The Arc New York is excited for the release of this critical document and looks forward to partnering with Gov. Hochul and OPWDD Commissioner Neifeld to execute this plan. This plan will set a course for the future of I/DD services in New York state. It is absolutely essential that we have a shared, collaborative plan that lays out a strategic vision for the future. We truly appreciate the efforts of OPWDD to listen to stakeholders in developing this guiding document, and we look forward to providing feedback on this draft to ensure the highest quality, person-centered services going forward.“
Thomas McAlvanah, executive director of the Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC), said, “We look forward to the release of the OPWDD’s draft 5.07 plan, the agency’s vision and strategic agenda for supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. IAC and our entire community are pleased to work with OPWDD and support each person’s goal of living the life they choose and participating fully in their communities. Let us work together to achieve a stronger and more responsible system, one that focuses on each individual’s life and strengthens and honors the essential workforce that support them.”
Michael Seereiter, president and CEO of the NY Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation, said, “The NY Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation applauds OPWDD for breathing new life into the statewide 5.07 comprehensive planning process. With the investments in this year’s state budget, New York has ushered in a new era for our system of supports and services for people with I/DD, making this a particularly important time to time to reinvigorate the planning process. We look forward to continuing to work with OPWDD over the coming months to refine and finalize the plan, and then begin work on implementation.”
Yvette L. Watts, executive director of the NY Association of Emerging & Multicultural Providers (NYAEMP), said, “We are excited about the mission associated with the 5.07 plan, as it has the potential to change the course of our field and, most importantly, impact the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.”
For more information on OPWDD’s draft strategic plan and how to provide comment on the draft plan, visit the OPWDD website.