New OPWDD Website

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities in NY launched their new website last week. I could not have been more excited over the redesign. The design is easy on the eyes. However, the launch of the new OPWDD website is more than a redesign.


The site is similar to the feel and look of other NY State agencies. Though in itself not a bad approach; nor is it inspiring or warm. Ah , and that’s the point. OPWDD is not meant to be your ” rich uncle “. There is no moral obligation.

OPWDD is a staggering 8 BILLION DOLLAR state agency in New York. OPWDD is an agency whose authority and funding is Medicaid, which is an arrangement and obligation between federal, state ( Department of Health ) and local government. 

In addition, easy to locate from the home page is data that drives OPWDD’s decisions. This is different than the way OPWDD informed parents and caregivers over the past years. Much of the data over the years was not available, and when available shared in live forums, almost anecdotally. 

Why is OPWDD sharing data with us? In my opinion, it is to inform us as to the reasons that they will be making decisions that will limit supports and services. That is for another discussion. Parents and caregivers, be resourceful and think outside the box.

I would like to bring attention to the section on housing, to be more specific, types of housing. It is clear to me that the future for housing is through family resources and development  of non certified living arrangements with OPWDD housing subsidies ( self direction and ISS ) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

This has been the trend for several years…parents and caregivers must address this planning NOW with their financial planners.


In short, the OPWDD website redesign is well done. It successfully 1) lets parents and caregivers see the data that drives the new decisions and 2) presents an overview of OPWDD programs and 3) redirects decision making to  rules governing the HCBS Waiver in NY State.

Happy, Healthy and Financial Security – Possible or Not?

The recent settlement by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities with the plaintiffs in the Union Avenue IRA re: abuse and neglect does not address the root of the problem.

In the settlement, OPWDD relinquishes ownership of the group home to a private not for profit entity. The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs stated ” We lost all faith the the agency ( OPWDD ) to run the house effectively. The most important thing the families want is for their loved ones to be safe, and they have no confidence that the state would keep them safe”.


Is this a solution to a systemic problem in which direct service workers, and their oversight is perceived as a big part of the problem? We have created a punitive culture, one whose role is to prosecute and punish DSP’s and their authorities.

What can we can do foster a DSP culture which is energetic, dedicated, and progressive?

Recruit high school graduates or the equivalent? Develop management tracks for training? Offer more aggressive tax benefits and loan forgiveness to people willing to work as DSP’s for a specified number of years. Offer scholarships for DSP’s who study and move up the ladder. Create a positive culture. Consider loosening work visas for DSP’s. Allow for federal and state waiver dollars for intentional communities.

Social work is a business. It used to be the work of government.