INDEPENDENT LIVING: Individuals with disabilities meet their legislators the place they work | opinion

PPeople with disabilities will gather in our state capital in February to meet their lawmakers where they work, to discuss the needs – and remaining shortcomings in – the programs and services that are a direct result of support from our elected leaders in Albania.

This is an attempt to ensure that people with disabilities not only have equal opportunities, but also to ensure that fairness (ie impartiality) is taken into account. At this annual meeting, the governor, state senate and assembly work to finalize a mutually acceptable state budget before the April 1 deadline. Volunteers and members from Independent Living of Niagara County will have representatives in the Capitol on February 6 to reunite with their peers from dozens of disability organizations from across the Empire State on this first in-person advocacy day since COVID-19 restrictions Year 2020 restricted. Advocates and people with disabilities will meet with their senators and assembly members to advocate for programs important to the disability community.

As more issues come to the table this year, two of the most pressing concerns advocates are highlighting are critical to protecting the civil rights of our constituents and strengthening programs that allow people with disabilities to lead independent, inclusive lives in to lead our communities. They are:

— Increase in wages for home care workers. Many people with significant disabilities that limit their abilities depend on personal care assistants to live in their non-institutional homes. However, as companies in many sectors struggle to find enough workers to fill vacancies as Covid restrictions ease and wage rates increase, many PCAs are leaving home health care for other positions. Many people with disabilities who need assistance are forced into long-term care facilities.

To remedy this home care crisis, advocates believe that increasing home care worker wages to 150% of the state minimum wage, as stipulated in the Fair Home Care Pay Pay Act, will address the ever-increasing Medicaid costs that will result Nursing homes are the only remaining options for people with disabilities to live.

— Housing offer. There should be a drastic increase in funding for the Access to Home program for people with disabilities who need to remodel their homes to avoid institutionalization. These funds have shrunk from the original $10 million to $1 million. Proponents want the fund to be increased back to $10 million.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know my mantra is to get involved and advocate for decisions that affect your life. So if you believe that people with disabilities need just the right kind of support to be full partners in our great society, then pick up the phone, write a letter, or join the dozens of people with disabilities in Niagara County On February 6, he will set up appointments with New York State decision makers and head east to speak with them.

Douglas J. Usiak is Chief Executive Officer of Independent Living of Niagara County, which empowers people with disabilities to get the information and resources they need to improve their quality of life and participate more equally in society. For more information on ILNC services and programs, call 716-284-4131, extension 200.

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