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The Economic, Community and Human Impact of Disability Service Providers on Long Island Explored at Recent News Conference

The Economic, Community and Human Impact of Disability Service Providers on Long Island Explored at Recent News Conference

Categories: Advocacy, Agency Excellence, Blog, Featured News, Leadership

Rockefeller Institute Report Demonstrates Preferred Source Program Creates Thousands of Jobs for New Yorkers with Disabilities, but Also Needs to Be Strengthened

LONG ISLAND, NY – Long Island’s non-profit disability service providers support nearly 12,000 full-time jobs and generated nearly $2 billion dollars in economic impact, according to a new report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government highlighted by providers and state lawmakers at a news conference today at AHRC Nassau.

“The Rockefeller Institute report puts hard numbers to what we’ve been saying for years — that when people with disabilities have jobs, our entire state benefits,” said Maureen O’Brien, President and CEO of New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID), which facilitates job opportunities for people with disabilities.

NYSID alone generated $46 million in economic impact for the Long Island Region, according to the Rockefeller Institute report.

“The report tells a numbers story, but every number represents a fellow New Yorker whose life has been made better. Behind every number is someone with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, a mental health issue, or a traumatic brain injury. And because of their job, they can earn a living, live a fuller life and contribute to our communities as well as New York’s tax base,” O’Brien said.

The Rockefeller Institute in December issued a report, “The Role of Disability Service Providers in the New York State Economy.” The report examined the economic impacts of both the Preferred Source program (PSP) – a model for ensuring people with disabilities have employment opportunities – and the larger non-profit service delivery system for New Yorkers with disabilities supported through the State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

The statewide numbers show:

  • 427 New York nonprofit disability service providers reported $14.3 billion in economic output.
  • The providers supported nearly 200,000 full-time jobs and contributed $2.2 billion in federal and state tax revenue.
  • NYSID alone generated $407.3 million in economic impact.

“Employment can be a profound expression of inclusion, underscoring the dignity and contributions of men and women with developmental disabilities,” said Stanfort J. Perry, Executive Director, AHRC Nassau. “Understanding the interdependence of disability providers, employment and our Long Island economy affirms the value of this largely untapped workforce.”

New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation President & CEO Michael Seereiter said: “The Rockefeller report provides compelling data that supports what we in the non-profit disability service provider sector have known for a long time. Namely, that investments in disability services not only make huge impacts in the quality of life of New Yorkers with disabilities, but also offer the State of New York an outstanding return on those investments. Looking ahead, New York must make this sector a priority by addressing the workforce crisis and ensuring sustainability of these organizations now and beyond. With the support of legislators and Gov. Hochul, we can make that a reality.”

The Rockefeller Institute Report notes, “The nature of employment opportunities and workplaces have shifted since NYSID was founded in 1974 and a regular review of requirements and thresholds is warranted.” The report recommends legislation that would:

  • Simplify the process for approving Preferred Source contracts to make it closer to other diversity and inclusion contracting initiatives. Right now, the OGS review threshold is $50,000 – a level set 18 years ago. Rockefeller recommended it be raised to $250,000.
  • Modernize the rules and expand opportunities for Preferred Source contractors by lowering the disabled ratio required on a given contract that must be performed by people with disabilities – from 75 percent to 50 percent. This would recognize the fact that much of the employment now takes place in community-based settings in which persons with disabilities work side by side with people without disabilities.

 “Passing this legislation, which has bipartisan support, would strengthen the Preferred Source Program so it can support more people and turbo-charge its economic benefits for the state while remaining under the watchful eye of regulators and policy makers,” O’Brien said.

“Gov. Hochul’s budget and State of the State message clearly articulated that issues important to New Yorkers with disabilities are a priority for her administration. We support her desire to make New York a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities, and her commitment to significant increases in funding for the service delivery sector, especially the dedicated professionals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to individuals with disabilities they have supported throughout the pandemic,” Seereiter said.

New York State Senator John Brooks (D-Massapequa) said: As we continue to support the work that Long Island’s non-profit disability service providers like AHRC do for those with developmental disabilities, it is also important to recognize the local economic impact they generate. These organizations not only help to ensure that people with disabilities find employment, but also provide thousands of employment opportunities for the greater Long Island community. I thank New York State Industries for the Disabled and the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation for their efforts to produce this report and for all the work they continue to do.

New York State Senator James Gaughran (D-Northport) said:
“We already know of the extraordinary contributions AHRC Nassau and their members make to our economy and our community. Now, the Rockefeller Institute’s report affirms this. Thank you AHRC Nassau and your entire network for your work supporting individuals with disabilities.”

Assemblyman Michael Montesano (R,C,I,LBT-Glen Head) said: “I’d like to thank the New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID) for all their hard work and dedication in helping individuals with disabilities and their loved ones. The economic impact it has provided to Long Island is huge and something to be applauded. This report will provide much needed insight into how we can strengthen ways to help the community, so I look forward to seeing what will come out of the findings.”

Assemblyman Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square) said: “It is with great pride that I stand with New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) and AHRC and the amazing work they do to help the disabled community and their families. For decades, these organizations have raised money and awareness and provided crucial services and support for those in need. The recent report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government shows just how far the hard work they’ve dedicated to the cause really goes. 25,000 full-time jobs and $2 billion dollars in economic impact is no small drop in the bucket when it comes to forwarding disabilities services and opportunities. Thank you for everything you do, and keep up the good work!”

Assembly Member Missy Miller (R,C,I,-Atlantic Beach) said: “I appreciate the thoughtful findings and direction from the Rockefeller report that was recently released regarding the immeasurable benefit providers give to our vulnerable populations. The report validates what we always knew: that Long Island’s non-profit disability providers support the intellectual and developmental disability community and have a significant economic impact on Long Island.

It was equally as heartening to see such a tremendous opportunity for employment through the Wheatley Farms and Art Center, and I love the sibling support center.

The importance and stakes to support our providers and centers has never been greater. I remain hopeful that with reports and findings like this, we continue to make needed investments that will continue to protect and love all of our vulnerable populations.”

Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips said: “Long Island is fortunate to have many exceptional non-profit service providers who work tirelessly to support people with special needs.  Organizations such as NYSID, the New York Alliance and AHRC Nassau who provide services and support to individuals with disabilities, create tens of thousands of jobs on Long Island and generate millions in economic output.  The recent Rockefeller Institute Report highlights how substantial this impact is. Now is the time to recognize this and explore ways to strengthen these organizations and their ability to meet the changing needs of those in their programs and their families,” said Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips.

About New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID)
NYSID is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission of “advancing employment and other opportunities for individuals with disabilities.” Established in 1975, NYSID facilitates employment opportunities for nearly 5,000 New Yorkers with disabilities annually through New York’s Preferred Source Program and in the private sector. NYSID’s community rehabilitation member agencies and corporate partners are located throughout the state, providing jobs in the community and in production facilities. For more information, visit www.nysid.org.

About AHRC Nassau
AHRC Nassau, a chapter of The Arc New York, is one of the largest agencies in New York State supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Based in Nassau County, the nonprofit empowers people to lead fulfilling lives, together with family, friends and community. AHRC’s programs include a wide array of supports for people with disabilities and their families, including vocational and employment services, adult day habilitation and community-based services, guardianship, family support services and respite/ recreation opportunities, as well as residential services. AHRC Nassau is part of an elite group of international agencies accredited by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership for Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation With Distinction. AHRC is also one of four agencies accredited by New York State’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities as a Compass agency, which is the highest level of accreditation offered. For more information, visit www.ahrc.org.

About the New York State Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation
The NY Alliance is a statewide association representing nearly 150 not-for-profit provider agencies serving people with disabilities. The NY Alliance envisions a society where people with disabilities are contributing citizens with equal rights and the ability to live full, productive and meaningful lives. For more information, visit https://nyalliance.org/.