Hochul announces five-year developmental disabilities plan

New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
State of New York/ Kevin P. Coughlin

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced that the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has completed a five-year strategic plan to help strengthen supports and services for New Yorkers.
Developed with significant input from stakeholders over the course of 18 months, the 2023-2027 Strategic Plan identifies and organizes crucial agency priorities to guide the delivery of services for people with developmental disabilities statewide over the next half-decade.
“The New York dream should be a reality for everyone in our state, including people with developmental disabilities,” Hochul said. “This five-year plan provides a comprehensive roadmap to strengthen supports and enhance services statewide for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities – helping to build a more inclusive, equitable state for all.”
The plan organizes agency priorities as identified by stakeholder input, which were collected over 18 months starting in 2021.
The plan identifies three overarching agency goals with objectives and a range of initiatives that will support the agency’s mission: Strengthening workforce technology and collaboration; transforming the agency through innovation and change; and enhancing person-centered supports and services.
The plan identifies strengthening the direct support workforce as a top and urgent priority.
It also calls for improving how the agency uses and shares data; making improvements to supports and services; and ensuring that the unique needs of New Yorkers served by the agency are met throughout their lives.
Hochul said the plan fulfills a requirement under state Mental Hygiene Law requiring OPWDD to prepare guidance for agency activities with input from the public.
She said OPWDD will report progress in achieving the plan’s stated objectives and goals to stakeholders on an annual basis, seeking input from them on success, areas for improvement, and any shifting priorities.
OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “I am very proud to release the agency’s strategic plan that will serve as our guide for improving the experience that people with developmental disabilities and their families have within our system and in their lives.
“The final plan represents the highest-priority goals and objectives of our stakeholders for OPWDD to pursue and will direct the agency’s focus over the coming years,” Neifeld added. “I look forward to working together to make the system more equitable, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of people we support.”
State Sen. John W. Mannion said, “As Chairman of the Disabilities Committee I have staunchly advocated for OPWDD to work with stakeholders to produce this plan and the outcome is encouraging.
“It has been over ten years since OPWDD last developed a strategic plan so I appreciate Gov. Hochul taking this important step in improving agency operations, priorities, and identifying how it can best serve the disabilities community,” he added. “Looking ahead, I’ll be focused on making sure the plan is executed with transparency and proper oversight.”
Self-Advocacy Association of New York State President Tony Phillips said, “We are grateful to OPWDD for listening to self-advocates as the new strategic plan was being developed. At the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, we believe that a renewed focus on person-centered supports and services must come first.
“While we have a long way to go in addressing our staffing support needs and transforming our system, it is clear that we are taking meaningful steps in the right direction,” Phillips added.

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