by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
The Mid-Hudson Valley in New York State may be atypical from many other localities: it has the highest proportion of developmentally disabled persons in the country. Over 10,000 developmentally disabled residents from Willowbrook, Letchworth Village, and Wassaic Developmental Center have been re-integrated into the community. A large number of jobs—private and nonprofit—are part of the caring network.
Federal budget cuts, and state cuts, will hurt the families and people with developmental disabilities, as well as reduce many jobs. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports this morning.
“Jennifer O’Neill-Brennan is scared what could happen to her 7-year-old autistic son if proposed state funding cuts for local care agencies go through.
“For the past four years, O’Neill-Brennan and her family have made use of the respite program at New Horizons Resources, a local not-for-profit agency that provides services to children and adults with developmental disabilities.
“The program provides a skilled worker who comes into her home each week to watch and work with her son.
“I’m worried about these cuts,” said the 47-year-old LaGrange resident. “Some of these programs provide more support than family can.”
While the proportion of developmentally disabled in Dutchess County makes this an especially crucial issue for this locale, every community, in every state across America, will struggle if cuts are made. Services to the developmentally disabled are not entitlements–they are a lifeline for our most vulnerable citizens, those among us who by dint of the genetic lottery cannot care independently for themselves.