Menu:

May 18: ‘Inside the Cages’ looks at how local journalist exposed Willowbrook

Please join us for “Inside the Cages”: Jane Kurtin and The Staten Island Advance Break the Willowbrook story

 6 PM Wednesday, May 18th, 2022, live via Zoom

Please pre-register for this event via bit.ly/YOW2022cages​

 From the late 1940s through the 1970s, the Willowbrook State School operated as the world’s largest institution for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Conceived as an ideal center for treatment, it rapidly descended into a “snakepit” through underfunding, overcrowding, and understaffing. Willowbrook residents suffered neglect and abuse, and in some cases, were subjected to unethical medical research. Parents of children in the School, aided by concerned doctors and staff, acted to reform and then ultimately to close Willowbrook. They were supported in these efforts by journalists, who made the wider world aware of what they had witnessed with their own eyes.

Many know of the powerful exposé, broadcast fifty years ago, by ABC television journalist Geraldo Rivera. Rivera’s scathing report, Willowbrook, The Last Disgrace, which we featured in a Year of Willowbrook event in February*, brought the story of Willowbrook to a national audience. But before this, the story had been “broken” — brought into the light — by a local journalist, Jane Kurtin. Kurtin’s stories in The Staten Island Advance went beyond the isolated articles about Willowbrook that had appeared in other newspapers, like the New York Times. Her reporting on Willowbrook looked at it from a multitude of angles, and presented a sustained focus over several years of reporting on the struggles of the institution, on its underfunding, on the community’s response, and — most powerfully — on families’ agony and activism in the face of the institution’s harming of their loved ones. It is not an exaggeration to say that without Kurtin’s reporting, and without the local Staten Island Advance to publish it, the Willowbrook story might never have been told.

This event will feature a discussion among reporter Jane KurtinStaten Island Advance Executive Editor Brian Laline, and Willowbrook Legacy Committee member Diane BuglioliIt will examine the story behind the stories, how the Advance came to assign Kurtin to cover Willowbrook, and what the experience of reporting meant for those involved. We will also have the opportunity to view selected photographs captured by the late photojournalist Eric Aerts, who accompanied Kurtin on her investigations inside Willowbrook (a retrospective gallery show of Aerts’s powerful work is planned for the Fall). The event will be introduced by Willowbrook Legacy Committee Co-Chair Nora Santiago, and audience discussion will follow, facilitated by Willowbrook Legacy Committee Co-Chair, Dr. Catherine Lavender.

*A recording of The Year of Willowbrook event about the exposé can be viewed on the Willowbrook Project’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/63Imoby2X6c.

HR Conference registration now open

CP State is happy to announce that registration is now open for the 5th Annual Human Resources Professionals Conference for the Disability Provider Community on June 28-29, 2022 at the Embassy Suites in Saratoga Springs!
This two-day conference will feature HR subject matter experts who will discuss trending topics ranging from diversity and equity policies to recruiting in the current employment market.
Register now and take advantage of the Early Registration Fee option!
  • Early Registration deadline is May 6.
  • Final Registration deadline is June 15.
Reserve your hotel room today! Click here  to reserve an overnight room at our special rate.
There are a limited number of rooms available for this event – early registration is encouraged.
Questions? Contact Tim Ferguson (tferguson@cpstate.org) or Deb Williams (dwilliams@cpstate.org).

Racker certified as Living Wage Employer

Racker, One of the County’s Largest Employers Certifies as Living Wage with Tompkins Workers’ Ctr

Racker and Tompkins County Workers’ Center are excited to report that Racker was recently certified as a Living Wage Employer.

The Tompkins County Living Wage is calculated bi-annually by Alternatives Federal Credit Union. The current Living Wage is $15.32 per hour. All staff at Racker earn more than $15.32 per hour.

Racker currently employs 735 staff in Tompkins, Cortland and Tioga Counties. They provide a wide continuum of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. In 2013, the organization developed a strategic plan that included providing a living wage for every employee. At that time, the Tompkins County Living Wage standard was $12.42. During this nine-year journey, Racker implemented organizational changes that included efficiencies that moved money to staff wages, particularly for those providing direct care. They ramped up advocacy efforts while working with local state legislators to increase reimbursement rates from contracted New York State agencies. The combination of those efforts allowed Racker to close a $3 million Living Wage gap, moving the compensation of over 300 staff from below a Living Wage to above a Living Wage.

Sandra Morris, a direct support professional at Racker, reflected on the new certification: “I am so proud to work for an agency that has put in so much effort to become a certified livable wage employer, because it shows that they care about their employees and the people they serve. I believe when people are happy and less stressed, they are able to work better. They don’t need to worry about sacrificing time with family by getting a second job just to be able to make ends meet. Being happy at work and being happy at home go hand in hand. When we are happy, we transfer that happiness to the people around us. I feel that Racker has the same philosophy.”

Dan Brown, Executive Director at Racker, stated that reaching this goal was a team effort, and financially acknowledges the value of our staff and their impact on our Mission: We support people with disabilities and their families to lead fulfilling lives by providing opportunities to learn and be connected with others.

Pete Meyers, Coordinator of TCWC says: “The TCWC views Racker’s willingness and commitment to pay all of their workers a Living Wage, especially considering the fact that the industry that Racker occupies doesn’t typically pay all of its workers a Living Wage, a tremendous achievement by Racker, and we’re very thankful for Dan Brown’s work to make a Living Wage a reality for all Racker staff!”

Tompkins County Workers’ Center is a nonprofit organization that leads the Tompkins County community in a ‘moral and economic imperative of paying workers a Living Wage.’ Their Living Wage Certification Program provides a standard for local employers and recognizes those businesses that are able to achieve that baseline. Racker and Tompkins County Workers’ Center are proud to announce this achievement and will continue to work to ensure our community provides a fair wage to our neighbors.

Final State Budget includes 5.4%COLA, money for bonuses

 NEW YORK STATE 2022-2023 FINAL Budget Highlights

The New York State Legislature passed the final 2022-2023 budget bills early on Saturday, April 9, 2022.  The final $220 billion budget was $4 billion more than Governor Hochul had proposed in January with many controversial and policy/non-budget measures including:

  • $1.2 billion for one-time frontline healthcare workers bonuses
  • $3.9 billion in funding to aid hospitals
  • $7.7 billion over four years to increase the home care minimum wage by $3.
  • $7 billion over the next four years to expand childcare
  • Gas and diesel fuel tax cut by 16 cents a gallon from June 1 through December 31, 2022
  • $600 million for a new Buffalo Bills Stadium
  • $2.2 billion in one-time property tax rebates for low- and middle-income property owners
  • $162 million in tax cuts for middle class families to be fully phased in by April 2023, instead of waiting until 2025
  • $800 million to the state’s depleted COVID rental assistance program
  • $250 million in utility arrear assistance
  • $125 million in homeowner and landlord assistance
  • Changes to bail laws

 

Following are the highlights of interest to CP of NYS Affiliates:

 

OPWDD

  • 5.4% Human Services COLA –$149.1 million for OPWDD COLA
  • $136.3 million for OPWDD Healthcare and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonuses (see detailed summary below the highlights) –
    • Workers are eligible for two six-month intervals between 10/1/21—3/31/24.
    • Employees – Include full-time, part-time, on a scheduled or temporary basis, or as an independent contractor that receives an annualized based salary of $125,000 or less and worked:
      • An average of at least 20 but less than 30 hours per week = $500.00
      • An average of at least 30 but less than 35 hours per week = $1,000.00
      • An average of 35 or more = $1,500.00
      • Full time employees exempt from overtime = $1,500.00
    • Workers can qualify after six months of employment for the first bonus.
    • Applies to a long list of titles in OPWDD, OMH, OASAS, and includes “such titles as determined by the commissioner.
    • Bonuses are exempt from income which is included in the calculation to determine their federal or state public benefits
  • Statewide Healthcare Facility Transformation Program (SHCFTP) – authorizes Phase IV funding and added OPWDD community-based programs as eligible
  • Nurses Across NY Loan Forgiveness Program – includes underserved populations/DD
  • Temporary operators – Gives OPWDD permanent authority to appoint temporary operators
  • New Opportunities for those living at home – $2 million for new service opportunities for individuals with disabilities that are currently living at home and whose caregivers are unable to continue caring for them

 

SED

  • The Education Article VII language will:
    • Allow special education schools (4410, 853 & Special Acts) to retain annual surpluses of 11% in 2022-23 through 2024-25, 8% in 2025-26, 5% in 2026-27, and 2% in 2027-28 and thereafter.
    • Limit the language, that was added in last year’s budget for an 853 reserve fund of up to 1% per year for a maximum of 4%, to the 2021-22 school year – which was needed for 853s to retain the surpluses of 11% etc.
    • There apparently will be a “side letter” to outline the legislative intent, clarify the agreement, and provide definitions (i.e., “allowable and reimbursable costs,” holding future tuition rates harmless from the impact of surplus deposits, etc.)
    • Will not eliminate reconciliation, add interim plus rates or hold harmless for enrollment declines.
    • We will be working with SED, The Legislature and the Executive to ensure that the Governor’s promise of an 11% COLA is kept.
  • Healthcare bonuses (See below) applies to clinical staff/titles listed below in 4410s & 853s. Does not apply to teachers, teacher aides, teacher assistants.
  • Retired Employees – May be employed by a school district or BOCES without any impact on their pension until June 30, 2023.

 

DOH

  • Repeals MRT #26
  • Medicaid 1% across the board increase – for DOH Medicaid programs including Article 28 clinics, Early Intervention
  • Utilization Thresholds – accepts the repeal of utilization thresholds
  • Prescriber Prevails – maintains Prescriber Prevails in the Medicaid pharmacy benefit
  • Fair Pay for Home Care – Provides for a $1.50 increase to the home care minimum wage this year and another $1.50 increase next year for a total of a $3 increase.
  • Telehealth payment parity – modifies the Executive proposal to include a two-year sunset and requires a detailed report on the use of telehealth. Article 28 (this does NOT include FQHCs) facility fees will not be reimbursed if both distant and originating site are not in the Article 28 clinic
  • Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program – includes a proposal that allows CDPAP fiscal intermediaries, that were not initially selected in the 2021 Commissioner’s RFO (including those who serve I/DD), to provide services.
  • Healthcare bonuses (see below) we believe this applies to clinical staff/titles listed below in Affiliate Early Intervention programs

 

OTHER

  • 5,4% Human Services COLA includes OPWDD, OMH, OASAS
  • Kendra’s Law – Extends for 5 years
  • 988 Hotline – Establishes a 9-8-8 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline system with modified reporting metrics and ensures call centers are established in-house.
  • Mental Health Criminal Justice Reforms
    • Connect criminal defendants with mental health treatment through existing procedures under the Mental Health Law and ensure that the court stays connected with the defendant throughout his or her treatment
    • Allow mental health practitioners to testify via video conference.
    • Allow for expanded care coordination for mental health.
    • Allow for mental health reassessment within six months of the expiration of an assisted outpatient treatment order.
  • Child Care Subsidies – increases the income eligibility for child care subsidies to 300% of the federal poverty level and increases reimbursement rates from 69% to 80% .The work requirement for recipients in post-secondary education was eliminated and the Executive’s language modification related to rollover funds for local districts was eliminated. The 10 percent of income over the Federal Poverty Level cap on copayments was continued.
  • JCOPE – Replaces the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government to streamline the candidate requirements for Executive Director; include victim statement confidentiality requirements; increase Commission member standards; and to specify that unfounded complaints are not FOIL-accessible

 

 

SFY 2022/23 Budget Healthcare Worker Bonuses

Bonuses must be claimed and paid to all eligible employees in two payments, not to exceed $3000.00.  Payments are based on hours worked during the six-month vesting periods, which began on 10/1/21 and ends on 3/31/24.

  1. Employee means full-time, part-time, salaried, hourly, temporary or independent contractor front line health care and mental hygiene workers (see list of titles from the statute below) as long as they earned a base salary of $125,000 or less. State employees are included.
  2. Employer means a Medicaid provider with at least one employee that bills for services under the state plan or HCBS waiver, or that has a provider agreement through managed care or a managed long term care plan and programs funded by OMH, OASAS, OPWDD, NYSOFA, higher ed, public or nonpublic schools, approved preschool programs for students with disabilities, charter schools, BOCES, a public health district or municipal corporation (counties, cities including NYC, towns, villages or school districts).
  3. Vesting Period is a series of 6-month periods between 10/1/21 and 3/31/24, during which time employees must be continuously employed.
  4. Base salary is the gross wages during the vesting period excluding bonuses and overtime pay.
  5. Tracking and submission of claims for bonuses – the Commissioner shall develop forms and procedures to identify the number of hours employees worked, for providers to be reimbursed to fund bonuses. Employers shall track the number of hours worked during the vesting period and, as applicable, the number of patients served by the employer who are eligible for services under this title and submit claims for reimbursement of employee bonus payments.  Payroll records will be used to determine an employee’s annualized base salary. Employers must maintain contemporaneous records for all tracking and claims related information and documents required to substantiate claims for a period of no less than six years.
  6. Payment of bonuses. The Commissioner will issue a vesting schedule for employers to pay bonuses based on the number of hours worked in the vesting periods.  Total payments are not to exceed $3,000.00 per employee:
  • For employees who worked:
    • An average of at least 20 but less than 30 hours per week = $500.00
    • An average of at least 30 but less than 35 hours per week = $1,000.00
    • An average of 35 or more = $1,500.00
    • Full time employees exempt from overtime = $1,500.00
  • Employees are eligible for bonuses for no more than two vesting periods per employer.
  • Payments must be paid no later than 30 days after the bonus is paid to the employer.
  • Employers must submit claims for bonuses no later than thirty days after an employee’s eligibility for the bonus vests.
  • Sick, vacation and FMLA hours are credited toward hours worked during the vesting period.
  • Payments to employees shall not be included in the calculation to determine their federal or state public benefits
  1. Employers that fail to identify, claim, and pay bonuses for more than ten percent of eligible employees shall be subject to additional penalties including fines of up to $1,000.00 per employee.

List of Titles in the Statute:

Physician  assistants,  dental  hygienists,  dental  assistants, psychiatric aides, pharmacists, pharmacy  technicians,  physical  therapists, physical therapy assistants, physical therapy aides, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, occupational therapy aides, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists,   recreational  therapists,  all  other  therapists,  orthotists, prosthetists, clinical laboratory technologists and  technicians,  diagnostic  medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiologic technologists,  magnetic  resonance  imaging  technologists,  ophthalmic medical technicians, radiation therapists, dietetic technicians, cardiovascular  technologists  and  technicians,  certified  first responders, emergency medical technicians, advanced emergency  medical  technicians, paramedics,  surgical  technologists, all other health technologists and technicians, orderlies, medical  assistants,  phlebotomists,  all  other health  care  support workers, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, nursing assistants, and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses;

Staff who perform functions as described in the consolidated fiscal report (CFR) manual with respect to the following title codes:

Mental Hygiene Worker; Residence/Site Worker; Counselor (OMH); Manager (OMH); Senior Counselor (OMH); Supervisor (OMH); Developmental Disabilities Specialist QIDP – Direct Care (OPWDD); Certified Recovery Peer Advocate; Peer Professional – Non-CRPA (OASAS Only); Job Coach/Employment Specialist (OMH and OPWDD); Peer Specialist (OMH); Counselor –  Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (CASAC); Counseling Aide/Assistant – Alcoholism and Substance Abuse; Other Direct Care Staff; Case Manager; Counselor – Rehabilitation;

Developmental Disabilities Specialist/Habilitation Specialist QIDP – Clinical (OPWDD);

Emergency Medical Technician; Intensive Case Manager (OMH); Intensive Case Manager/Coordinator (OMH); Nurse – Licensed Practical; Nurse – Registered; Psychologist (Licensed); Psychologist (Master’s Level)/Behavioral Specialist; Psychology Worker/Other Behavioral Worker; Social Worker – Licensed (LMSW, LCSW); Social Worker – Master’s Level (MSW); Licensed Mental Health Counselor (OASAS, OMH, OCFS); Licensed Psychoanalyst (OMH); Therapist – Recreation; Therapist – Activity/Creative Arts; Therapist – Occupational;

Dietician/Nutritionist; Therapy Assistant/Activity Assistant; Nurse’s Aide/Medical Aide; Behavior Intervention Specialist 1 (OPWDD); Behavior Intervention Specialist 2 (OPWDD);

Clinical Coordinator; Intake/Screening; Pharmacist; Marriage and Family Counselor/Therapist; Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) Transition Coordinator (OMH);

Crisis Prevention Specialist (OMH); Early Recognition Specialist (OMH); Other Clinical Staff/Assistants; Nurse Practitioner/Nursing Supervisor; Therapist – Physical; Therapist – Speech; Program or Site Director; and Assistant Program or Assistant Site Director; and “such titles as determined by the commissioner, or relevant agency commissioner as applicable, and approved by the director of the budget.”

 

Advocate for people with disabilities!

Your voice makes a difference.

With the state budget still outstanding, we still have time to make a change for New Yorkers with disabilities!

Click on the images below to send messages to Governor Kathy Hochul and your local representatives. It only takes a few moments.

Men and women with disabilities. Text reads The NYS Assembly has proposed an 11% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for disability service providers and we need to make sure it stays in the final state budget! Go to bit.ly/11percentCOLA and send a message to your legislators! Girl smelling a flower. Text reads 3 promises for special education.

Promote 988, the mental health crisis number

The Office of Mental Health is requesting your help promoting its upcoming 988 Newsletter which will help New Yorkers stay up to date on the July 16 transition to the FCC-designated mental health crisis number.

The first edition of the newsletter is due out at the end of the month and it’s being written for ALL New Yorkers, so we’d really appreciate it if you could help spread the word and get people signed up for the List Serv.

Here’s how:

Share on Social Media:

1)      Share our social media posts

a.       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=329028775932307&set=a.222225343279318

b.       Twitter: https://twitter.com/NYSomh/status/1501942947536719880?s=20&t=N8wM6QkGvwH7lVyOm0zKeA

2)      Post the info on your own social media channels.

Here is a sample Facebook post:

And here’s a sample tweet:

Share through YOUR List Servs:

Send out the following message through your agency’s established List Servs to help us spread the word:

988 – A New Number for the Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline in New York State

988 is the new three-digit number that connects callers with behavioral health crisis counselors. Once it goes live on July 16, 2022, callers who dial 988 will be connected to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call centers. This easy-to-remember number will change the way we address behavioral health crises in New York State. The New York State Office of Mental Health has created a monthly newsletter that will provide updates, education, and information on 988.

To stay current on the development and implementation of 988 in New York, sign up for the 988 Updates and Education newsletter. When you click on the link a blank email message will open. All you will need to do is press send and you will be signed up for the newsletter. The first newsletter is expected to be sent out at the end of March 2022.

If you’d like to send out something different or are looking to change up the text- please check with me first to ensure it is accurate. There are a lot of nuances to 988 messaging that we have to follow ahead of its launch. Also, please sign up for the list serv yourself to get OMH’s sharable 988 educational resources delivered straight to your inbox for easy promotion!

Funding Assistance Program for Equipment, Supplies, and other Supports

The Community Health Outreach Project is a grant program funded by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and administered by the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS) to provide financial assistance for the purchase of equipment, services, supplies, and other supports needed by individuals with intellectual, developmental, and other significant disabilities when all other funding opportunities have been exhausted.

This Project seeks to assist people with disabilities of all ages living within New York State by addressing the shortcomings in current supports and systems. Funds through this Project will provide access to supports for individuals in an effort to increase their health status and promote community participation. By removing barriers and offering assistance unavailable to them through other sources, CP of NYS can do its part to improve social and environmental living conditions while promoting quality of life. CP of NYS will focus on health measures and outcomes as well as the social determinants of health to identify priorities for funding and enable people to remain independent and active within their homes and communities.

Funding Opportunities for Agencies
The Community Health Outreach Project provides funding for the purchase of equipment, services, supplies, and other supports needed by persons with disabilities when other funding options, such as Medicaid, Medicare, government programs, private insurance, and other foundations/grants, have been explored and deemed unavailable. Agencies can be funded in two ways:

1) An agency can apply for funding of equipment, services, and programs to benefit the individuals you serve within your agency (i.e., IRA locations, day program, physical therapy department). The agency must provide information on all individuals who will benefit from the requested item; justification as to why the item is critically needed; written documentation as to why Medicaid and/or Medicare will not cover the cost of the item; and a vendor cost sheet/invoice showing the negotiated price for the item. If your application is approved, CP of NYS will pay the vendor directly.

2) An agency can be reimbursed for expenses incurred, less the amount covered by Medicaid, Medicare, government programs, private insurance, or other funding mechanisms, when it has already purchased equipment, services, supplies, and other supports. The agency must provide information on all individuals who benefitted from the requested item; justification as to why the item was critically needed; written
documentation as to why Medicaid and/or Medicare did not cover the cost of the item; and a paid invoice for the item. If your application is approved, CP of NYS will pay your agency directly.

Funding Eligibility
1) The individuals who will benefit from your request must reside within New York State.
2) The expenditure was incurred or will be incurred for the individuals during the Project’s funding period, which
is January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022.

Funding Limitations
This Project has a limited amount of funding to award during the year. Therefore, all applications will be handled on a first-come, first-serve basis. All completed applications will be considered by the Awards Committee provided funding is still available at the time of receipt of application. There is no guarantee of funding or approval of your request.
Agencies may submit more than one application. However, the Awards Committee will closely monitor the number of applications submitted by each agency and will limit awards in order to avoid a disproportionate share of the funds to any one agency. Additionally, only one application for equipment/services for each certified IRA or specific department within your agency will be accepted. Therefore, please prioritize your requests accordingly.

Supporting Documentation
You must complete the “Community Health Outreach Project Application Form for Agency Use Only” and provide appropriate, written documentation to accompany the application form, which validates your request:

  • A paid invoice or quotation-of-costs showing the final negotiated price from the vendor.
  • A written affidavit indicating that your agency sought funding for this request from all other sources, such as self-pay, Medicaid, Medicare, Government Programs, other foundations, other grant programs, etc., before applying to the Community Health Outreach Project.
  • A written affidavit stating the reason why Medicaid, Medicare, Government Programs, other foundations, other grant programs, etc. would not cover the expense.
  • Justification as to why this request is critically needed by your organization.

Required Signature
All applications must be signed by an authorized representative of the requesting Agency, affirming that the information furnished in the application form and supporting documentation is true and accurate. Unsigned forms will be ineligible for reimbursement.

Cindy Morris is the Project Director working at the CP of NYS offices.  Please contact her to learn more about the project or to obtain application forms.  She can be reached at (518) 436-0178 or via email at cmorris@cpstate.org.  Additionally, complete details can be found at www.cpofnys.org/CHOP.  There you’ll find an Application Form for Funding Assistance that can be completed by individuals/caregivers, and a separate form that Agencies can submit for reimbursement of expenses.

Submission Process
You can submit the completed application form as follows:
If an application form is sent electronically, send email with attachments to cmorris@cpstate.org.

Fax to (518) 436-8619, Attn: Cindy Morris

If application is sent via mail:
Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS, Inc.
3 Cedar Street Extension, Suite 2
Cohoes, NY 12047 If application is sent via fax:
Attn: Cindy J. Morris, Project Director

 

 

50th Anniversary showing of ‘Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace’

50 years ago, ABC investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera responded to a call from doctors and social workers at the Willowbrook State School to report on the appalling conditions under which its residents lived. Rivera and his crew captured footage in that clandestine visit to the School that became the explosive and honest exposé Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace.

When his report aired nationally, viewers were shocked to see residents living in squalor with little access to comfort or care, the result of years of budget cuts that had left the once-model institution overcrowded and understaffed. The public outcry led to a Consent Judgement in the New York courts that ordered the closure of Willowbrook and became a key precedent establishing that Willowbrook residents had a constitutional right to be protected from harm.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the original broadcast and as part of the 2022 Year of Willowbrook at the College of Staten Island/ CUNY, the Willowbrook Legacy Project presented an evening of reflection and discussion with Geraldo Rivera, hosted by Ken Iwama, former CSI VP of Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations, now Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest.

Susan Constantino steps down as CEO of CP State

Mike Alvaro to assume position effective Feb. 1

It’s the end of an era for Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS.

Susan Constantino, a stalwart advocate who has dedicated her life to fighting for disability rights and helping individuals achieve independence, has retired as President and CEO of CP State, effective February 1.

For decades, Susan has been tireless in her service to people with disabilities, and her accomplishments are numerous and awe inspiring.

She began in the field as a special education teacher, and eventually became the director of an education program for children with disabilities in Buffalo. From there, she served as the Director of Children’s Services at Aspire of Western New York from 1984 to 1989.

When computer-usage was still in its infancy, Susan had the foresight to become an early adopter of computer technology to aid people with disabilities, creating a program in the 1980s called “Special Friends and Computers.”

Susan was named President and CEO of Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State in July of 2004 after serving as Deputy Executive Director. For nearly 20 years, Susan led an association with 24 affiliates united by a mission of enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families. Under her leadership, CP of NYS affiliates continued to provide a wide variety of programs, including community-living opportunities, early-intervention, special-education, home service directors and family support services.

“To say that Susan shaped the landscape of disability services in New York would be an understatement,” said Mike Alvaro, who assumes the position of CEO. “Her legacy is the lasting positive influence on services, legislation, and the way we advocate for people with disabilities. CP State is truly the house that Susan built, and I am forever grateful for her leadership.”

Mike has been with CP State since July of 2003 and has been the Executive Director of the association since 2019. He has been instrumental in the formation and management of statewide advocacy coalitions, like New York Disability Advocates.

“Mike’s accomplishments at the CP State Association are too many to list and we are very fortunate to have him move seamlessly into his new position,” said CP State Board Chair Louis Tehan. “CP State is in the most competent hands and I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Mike on his new position.”