On June 15, Assemblywoman Melissa Missy Miller (R,C,I-Atlantic Beach) was joined by Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C,I-Ballston), Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro for a Zoom press conference to plead for Gov. Cuomo to allow families visitation in group homes, to allow home visits and to reopen Day Hab programs. For the last three months, residents have been kept in their group homes and have not been allowed family visits or day programs due to concerns over COVID-19. The officials thank the following participants for sharing their stories: Bob Carpenter, parent; Robyn Lip, resident in a group home; Toni-Marie Ciarfella, Ph.D., LCSWR, MPA, Dutchess County Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs; Mary Ann Allen, Executive Director of Wildwood Programs and parent; and Stephen Bronzi, parent.
Time and again, Ive heard devastating stories of parents and family members who have not seen their loved ones in over three months. Many of these special-needs adults dont understand why they cant see their family members. They think theyve been abandoned. I cant put into words how heartbreaking it is to hear these stories, said Miller. Action needs to be taken now to reunite these families. Im proud to be working with Assemblymembers Walsh and Ra and County Executive Molinaro to bring this very important issue to the governors attention.
Countless New York families have been separated from their children, siblings, cousins, parents and friends for months, said Walsh. The pain that family members are feeling is real and raw. As our state continues to successfully and safely reopen, we need responsible guidance to see our loved ones as soon as possible. Assembly members Miller and Ra and County Executive Molinaro and I will continue to do all we can until our pleas are heard and these families are finally reunited.
"We're urging the governor to do the right thing. We need to reunite these families before we expose some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers to any more needless trauma and suffering. Additionally, it's time to resume the Day Hab programs. After three months, clients are in desperate need of socialization and rewarding skill-building opportunities. I want to thank Assemblywoman Miller for leading the way on this critically-important issue, and I want to thank Assemblywoman Walsh and County Executive Molinaro for their tireless advocacy," said Ra.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, During this crisis, New York state has not prioritized those individuals with intellectual and development disabilities and their families. We have guidance regarding dining, office work and sports, but we have no information or timelines about when those in group homes will be able to visit their loved ones, and that shows where the governors priorities are. People in homes and facilities supported, regulated and administered by the NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities have had no visitation or physical contact with loved ones, and that is criminal. Their families have gotten little to no meaningful communication, nor any indication their confinement will end any time soon. Imagine the heartbreak - especially when there is no data to suggest our neighbors with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at any universally greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Yet, theyre treated as such.