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Budget cuts will hurt NYSARC services

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My brother Jacob receives services from St. Lawrence NYSARC. I’m writing our legislators to persuade them to stop the 6 percent budget cut to Medicaid. Jacob is a young person with developmental disabilities. Before my brother was enrolled in St. Lawrence NYSARC’s Children and Youth program, my family couldn’t go out to a restaurant, bowling or movies without being uncomfortable.

Fun, happy family times like this were just not possible because his behavior was so disruptive. Following Jacob’s enrollment in St. Lawrence NYSARC’s programs, all these family times started changing into what we’d hoped they’d be. No longer were these situations awkward, they are now fun and exciting! All because the staff at St. Lawrence NYSARC taught Jacob appropriate behavior and social skills.

The Children and Youth program also gives Jacob the opportunity to go out without his family. He gets the pleasure of having fun out in the community, doing things with his friends. This is an opportunity he was previously denied, simply because there was no other service available to him. St. Lawrence NYSARC allows a staggering number— 750 children and adults — to experience things that they otherwise wouldn’t ever be able to, while simultaneously teaching the participants life skills that are essential tools needed for them to function in public, at home and by themselves.

St. Lawrence NYSARC is for children and adults living with developmental disabilities. This budget cut of $1.3 million (along with the $1.2 million of the previous two years) will greatly hinder the quality of life for people supported by this program. Not to mention the effect this budget cut will have on the economy, with a staff of 612 people employed by St. Lawrence NYSARC. To many, this program provides the difference between being alive and living. This is more than just work and earning money; this is friends, this is social time. This is the place where people are equal, united and enjoying themselves, genuinely having fun.

Please, consider the effect this budget cut will have on my family and so many other families like ours.

Kirstin Henry

Norfolk

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