Op-Ed: Don't Cut the Dignity to Work

QNS.COM | MAR 25, 2021

QUEENS — My son Vincent loves to work. It’s what he thinks about each day and it’s all he wants to do. Most days, he travels five hours round trip, from Queens to Brooklyn and back because he is passionate about his job as a janitor for Hudson River Services, contracted to the FDNY EMS Academy.

My son also is a person with developmental disabilities, Autism, and very sensitive sensory issues related to being on the autism spectrum. Thanks to Care Coordination Organizations (CCOs) that provide specialized and comprehensive care to people and families with developmental disabilities, my son has been given the opportunity he has always wanted, the dignity of work.

 People like Vincent rely on deep, personal care from care managers and their teams. Sometime last year, my son had a deeply personal issue that occurred at his place of work, which had the potential to disrupt his job and make some colleagues uncomfortable. While it was a misunderstanding, Vincent was aware he made an error. He needed support from someone who knew him well, his diagnoses and his habits who could speak to his condition. Because of the personal care Vincent has come to rely on, he was able to keep doing what he loves; working. This may not have been the case without the advocacy and specialized care that CCOs provide to Vincent and thousands across New York State.

Since Vincent began working I’ve witnessed his confidence grow leaps and bounds. What started as a 15-hour-week job, has now grown because of his determination and willingness to learn. Even during the pandemic, which made it very difficult for someone like Vincent to wear a mask even for a little while, let alone for a full day, he worked hard to overcome his sensory sensitivities to keep all of his PPE on to safely work each day.

CCOs are absolutely essential to provide the support and specialized care for people like Vincent to enable success and allow him to take pride in having the dignity of work. Without their unique expertise, Vincent would have had no one on his team.

Now, CCOs are facing devastating cuts in the NY state budget that would render them obsolete. Without the important, personalized care from CCOs, Vincent would never have had the chance to have a career and a sense of purpose. I see my son’s smile every day and know he is happy. He is hoping he can have more hours to work and earn more money. He now can dream bigger. Please do not destroy opportunities for others with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to experience the satisfaction that Vincent feels each day. He deserves to feel like he is making a difference each day. Keep CCOs funded for people like my son.

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