Dozens with disabilities are without schooling for years due to apparent staffing shortage

According to a recent email provided to News 12, the Arc of the Greater Hudson Valley does not have enough staff to serve about 80 other Orange County residents.

Ben Nandy

Mar 14, 2024, 10:26 PM

Updated 72 days ago


Joe Durante, 30, has been waiting for more than a year to obtain one of the limited local slots for day programs for people with disabilities, and recently learned he might be waiting much longer.
According to a recent email provided to News 12 by the Durante family, the Arc of the Greater Hudson Valley does not have enough staff to serve Joe, nor about 80 other Orange County residents on the waiting list for programs.
The Durante family moved from Brooklyn to Greenville just over a year ago into a house that better suits the needs of Joe, who lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Joe -- aware of the stakes and aware of his father Tony's frustration -- cried when the staffing shortage was brought up during an interview Thursday in his living room.
Joe said he has had trouble making new friends since moving here "because it's boring here" at the house all day, every day.
Tony Durante showed News 12 an email he said he received last week from one of the directors of the Arc's day programs.
"I have no idea when an opening will happen in program," the director wrote. "We have transportation limitations and program limitations due to staffing. As we have availability we look at the wait list and see whom we can bring in. As we said, we do have a waitlist and there are approximately 80 people on it for Orange County. Some have been waiting since early 2021."
"We understand," Tony said after reading the email. "There's a wait involved. So we'll wait. So now we've waited a year. Now I found out that others have waited three years?"
In an email to News 12 late Thursday, Arc Executive Director Regina McKenny Snead did not provide figures but did recognize a serious staff shortage.
“We, like all providers in the field, continue to experience staff shortages impacting the lives of New Yorkers with I/DD (Individuals With Developmental Disabilities) and their families every day,” she wrote. “There are more people in need of supports than there are staff available to provide them. We, like many providers, work with people to meet their needs wherever possible. Those needs are each unique.”
McKenny-Snead said her staff recognized that "there are still people in our communities in need of services."
She did not respond to questions about potential solutions.
Tony said he hopes the Arc -- or another agency like the one that used to serve Joe in Brooklyn -- takes urgent, creative action to make waiting periods shorter.
"Maybe then you should create a schedule to create a situation where you're not excluding anyone," Tony said. "What makes Joseph so different from anybody else? You saw how emotional he gets. He wants program."

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