Thursday, April 30, 2015

From Upstate NY : “Our families will not be silenced”

"How do I tell an elderly mother that her 'job' 24/7 is to take care of her adult son/daughter forever, that services are changing — and not for the better?"

This is an editorial by Cheryl Englert, the mother of a son with disabilities and a special education teacher from rural Upstate New York: “Insights: Our families will not be silenced”, 4/11/15.

After more than 30 years of working to see that New York state provides necessary supports to meet the needs of men and women with disabilities at work and in their homes, Cheryl Englert sees all that hard work being undone:

“While our local representatives have been supportive, Gov. Cuomo is turning his back on our most vulnerable citizens. Examples include a plan to close all sheltered work centers within six years, and a decree that actually prohibits new workshop employment right now. On the residential front, he has vetoed four bills that would have begun to address an expanding list of individuals who await housing because their family members are growing too old to effectively care for them."

Cheryl’s son Matt has a good life living in a 4-person home that provides 24-hour/day care to him and his best friends. He also works and socializes at a local sheltered work center. His mother can no longer speak confidently to the other mothers she talks to that those opportunities will continue to be available.

“The lack of choices and opportunities has had drastic effects on those families. It is like flying into a storm where you cannot see where you are going or how long will it take to reach the sunshine…” 

But they will not be silenced:

“Right now, hundreds of us across the state are writing letters and making phone calls to our elected representatives. We are organizing and expanding activism efforts, such as The Arc’s Family Advocacy Group ( — all in the name of better lives for individuals with disabilities and their families. It’s time to get this great state back on track!”

Read the whole article here.

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