YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In March's eNews:
Nominate An Individual or Program for the FTNYS Annual Awards
Justice Center Update
Central Region Youth Forum
YP! Outreach Call For Presentations
Federal Budget Woes and its Impact to New Yorkers with Disabilities
ACTION ALERT! Tell SEIU to Stop Linking Gun Violence to Olmstead
"Essential Health Benefits" Rule Covers Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment
NFB To Award 30 Scholarships in 2013
2013 Youth Transitions Fellowship
A Curriculum for Self-Advocates
Peace First Prize
A New Film Called 'Beyond the Medical Model'
Federal Government Eases Requirements to Hire People with Disabilities
RAMP: Building Partnerships
Price Chopper Donates to RAMP

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Last Call - Nominate An Individual or Program for the FTNYS Annual Awards!

The Deadline to Nominate An Individual or Program for the FTNYS Annual Awards is TODAY!


Families Together in New York State will present awards to individuals and/or programs that have accomplished outstanding achievements on behalf of children and youth with social, emotional and/or behavioral challenges. These awards will be presented during the Annual Conference, at the dinner which will be held on Sunday, April 21, 2013.


The Families Together Awards Subcommittee requests your assistance in determining which individuals and/or programs will receive these awards. Nominations for the Outstanding Family Advocate, Outstanding Youth Advocate and the Exceptional Service Provider are being accepted. 


You may nominate as many individuals or programs as you would like, but please use separate forms for each nomination. Nominations do not guarantee an award and must be kept confidential. Following the review of all nomination forms, the Awards Subcommittee will make final determinations of awards. Families Together employees and board members are not eligible for nomination.


To download the Nomination Form, visit Please print and fill out this form and return by fax or email no later than Friday, March 15, 2013. 


About the FTNYS Conference


Thank you for your interest in the 2013 Families Together in New York State Annual Conference. This year's theme: Wellness, Empowerment & Resilience: The Power of Family Support sets the stage for interactive and educational workshops, an empowering keynote address, networking, the family dance and lots of fun. Don't forget the popular auction, great exhibitors and wonderful food.


At this year's conference, we have something for everyone. We are excited to share the:


The Family & Advocate Track is designed for you. A great track for parents, caregivers, educators, staff and advocates, the Family & Advocate Track was developed based on what is important to you, the children and youth in your life, your family and your network.


The Leadership Track was created to address the needs of individuals who are in leadership roles and who work in the local, regional and statewide network.


The Youth Track, planned and delivered by the YOUTH POWER! network, offers workshops that are selected and delivered for and by young people to help build self-help and advocacy skills. The Youth Track is created for young people ages 12-29.

The Annual Conference gives attendees of all ages the chance to meet new people, find support, talk to others who understand and make lifelong friendships. We hope you enjoy the Annual Conference. On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff, thank you for attending the 2013 Conference. We hope you have a great experience.


** Please Note:

We are sorry but this year we will not offer FTKids, the program for children ages 5-12. There will be no child care or programming for any children under the age of 12.Youth ages 12 and up are invited to register for the YOUTH POWER! Track of the conference All children over the age of 12 attending the conference must be registered in the YOUTH POWER! Track.


Register for the conference today HERE!.

Justice Center Update

Justice Center Briefing on March 8, 2013 - a view from the back of a room full of people looking at a power point.
Announcement of the Executive Director - Justice Center Briefing March 8, 2013
At a briefing held on March 8, 2013 it was announced that Jeff Wise was appointed by Governor Cuomo to be the Director of the Justice Center. To serve as Director, Mr. Wise will have to be confirmed by the New York State Senate. Mr. Wise has served as the Director of the New York State Rehabilitation Association, at Coalition for the Homeless and in various government positions.


The Justice Center was created by legislation last year as a replacement to the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQCAPD). The Justice Center will monitor people receiving services in state or private care. Under the legislation, the Justice Center will have a Special Prosecutor with subpoena power and the ability to convene grand juries to investigate allegations of abuse in facilities caring for people with disabilities. Also passed are tougher laws to punish people who care for those with disabilities. "At the briefing on the eighth it was emphasized that the Justice Center would be a law enforcement agency and they will take all matters seriously," said Stephanie Orlando, YP! Executive Director.


Currently, the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQCAPD) is designated as both the Protection and Advocacy System (P&A) and Client Assistance Program (CAP). The P&A System provides advocacy to residents of New York State who have a disability that limits at least one major life activity. The CAP provides advocacy to people who are applying for or receiving vocational rehabilitation services or services from an independent living center, as well as providing information on rights under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 


However, the new legislation required the Governor to name a not-for-profit organization to oversee the New York Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System and Client Assistance Program (CAP). On June 1, 2013 Disability Advocates Inc. will be assuming the roles of P&A and CAP in New York State. However, the state is accepting public comment about redesignation of DAI as the P&A and CAP in New York State. If you would like to join us in supporting DAI as the P&A and CAP in New York please submit a statement of support to the following: 


Protection and Advocacy Redesignation 

The Capitol

Albany, NY  12224 

Email: [email protected]


If you submit public comment to the state, please also forward it to: 


Jennifer Monthie

Disability Advocates Inc.

5 Clinton Square

Albany NY  12207

[email protected]


Public comment will be accepted until April 5, 2013.


For additional information about submitting public comment, please click here  


YOUTH POWER!, President Aaron Baier stated: "while the creation of the Justice Center and separation of P&A/CAP services to Disability Advocates, Inc. have created some new opportunities for New York, YOUTH POWER! remains tentative. There are many implications to consider to New York's young people and we want to ensure that youth voice is present and that this new opportunity does not restrict the rights of young people or prevent them from living equally in society.  We will be watching closely and continue our involvement in the ongoing development of the Justice Center."   


For more information about the Justice Center click here 

Save the Date

Central Regional Youth Forum

YP! Central RegionSave the Date!

Saturday, April 13th, 1PM - 5PM


Do you know any youth labeled by the system and wants to be heard?


Tell them to come to the Central New York Regional Forum!


This will be a great opportunity for young people from foster care, juvenile justice, mental health, LGBTQ, or disability-related systems to stand up and be heard on issues important to them!


A flyer and registration form will be sent out once a location has been settled.


If you know of youth who would be interested, or if you'd like to bring a group of youth to the event, feel free to email Colleen at [email protected].



YP! Outreach Call For Submissions

ATTENTION YP! Members:  we want YOUth


Help Us Write Our Newsletter!


YP! wants YOU to contribute to the Spring/Summer Edition of our for-members-by-members newsletter! The newsletter comes out twice a year.


This next issue will have the theme "What YOUTH POWER! means to me"

We need members to send us:

  • News articles
  • Short stories
  • Poems
  • Photos
  • Drawings
  • Comics
  • Puzzles/brain teasers

Send us anything about how YOUTH POWER! has made you feel or the power of our movement. Have you been inspired by someone who fought for rights? Have you achieved a goal recently? Did YP! open your mind to a broader world view?


Your fellow YP! members want to hear about it.


Share with us! Get connected!

Please send submissions to:

Curtis Grupe, 737 Madison Ave. Albany, NY 12208

Email: [email protected]

Fax to ATTN: Curtis (518) 434-6478

Federal Budget Woes and its Impact on New Yorkers with Disabilities

On March 1, 2013 automatic across-the-board spending cuts totaling $85.3 billion this year went into effect because lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise on spending cuts and revenue increases (taxes and fees). This led to a budget procedure called "sequestration" (see-kwes-tray-tion) that is used to limit the size of the federal budget. Beginning this month, the United States Treasury (the federal agency that pays the government's bills) has been withholding a pre-determined amount of money from virtually all federal agencies. 


This budget procedure is unnecessarily putting thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities at greater risk for hunger, homelessness, incarceration and institutionalization. Unfortunately, almost nothing is off-limits, with drastic budget cuts hitting everything from early childhood education, special education to employment services, transportation and disability benefits. Fortunately, the sequester will spare Medicaid, but Medicare spending will be cut by two percent. Medicare cuts do not go into effect until April 1. Sequester cuts are split evently between defense and non-defense spending. This was agreed on by both parties as a way to motivate republicans and democrats to work together. Typically, defense spending has been a very important issue for republicans and non-defense spending has been key for democrats. The idea was that by targeting programs of importance to each side, a compromise would be reached.


Real Effects to Real New Yorkers


- Teachers and Schools: New York will lose approximately $42.7 million in funding for P-12 education. This puts around 590 teacher and aide jobs at risk. Additionally, about 70,000 fewer students will be served and approximately 120 fewer schools will receive funding.

- New York will lose approximately $36.3 million in funds for about 440 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities.

Work-Study Jobs: About 4,520 fewer low income students in New York would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 4150 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

- Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services will be eliminated for approximately 4,300 children in New York, reducing access to critical early education.

- Job Search Assistance to Help those in New York find Employment and Training: New York will lose about $884,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral and placement meaning around 46,230 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

- Child Care: Up to 2,300 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care.

- Vaccines for Children: In New York around 7,170 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $490,000.

- STOP Violence Against Women Program: New York could lose up to $412,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,600 fewer victims being served.


What Can You Do?


You can put pressure on your federal legislators to work across the aisle to develop a compromise. Please call your Congressperson and New York's two United States Senators and tell them about the real pain people are experiencing because of the sequester. When talking to them, be sure to provide them with a story of how sequestration is affecting you, a friend or loved one. The idea is to make it relatable.


To find out who your Congressperson is, click here


To Contact New York's 2 United States Senators, click here 


Resources to Learn More:


What Will Sequestration Mean for People with Disabilities (National Council on Disability)


What is the Sequester? (White House Blog) 


What You Need to Know About the Sequester (The White House)


Impact of March 1st Cuts on Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security: New York 


Tell SEIU to Stop Linking Gun Violence to Olmstead

The Center for Disability Rights has released this Action Alert:


SEIU affiliate in New York calls Olmstead plan dangerous, linking it to incidents of gun violence in Newtown and West Webster.


That's right! The union representing New York State workers in professional, scientific and technical positions is linking Olmstead implementation and the closure of a state developmental center to incidents of gun violence!



Below you can send a message telling the union, its parent union, and the state legislators who attended the union's press conference that the disability community won't tolerate its fear mongering, scapegoating and disability profiling!



On Friday (March 8, 2013), the Public Employees Federation (PEF) - a self-governing affiliate of SEIU - held a press conference responding to the proposed closure of the Monroe Developmental Center. In an effort to save union jobs at the facility, PEF said that it wanted "to alert the community to the dangers of closing facilities which house the clinically mentally disabled." In the PEF press release, Randi DiAntonio, Council Leader of PEF Division 259 at Monroe, said "These people need specialized supports for their behavioral issues. Our members, who are doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, social workers and other professionals are increasingly concerned about the safety and well being of these individuals, their families and the communities where they are being sent."


The PEF press release went on to say that approximately 90 individuals in the facility "will move into the community at large, despite assessments by courts and/or the state that they have been determined as being a danger to themselves and/or others and require the highest levels of security. Many of these individuals have committed crimes, including sexual offenses and other behavioral and psychiatric histories."

PEF also capitalized on concerns about gun violence in Newtown and West Webster. The PEF press release stated, "In the wake of the horrific incidents in Newtown and in West Webster on Christmas Eve, the professionals whose lives are affected day to day have a message to the Governor and to the community at large. The process by which the Governor intends to 'deinstitutionalize' under his Olmstead Implementation Plan is not a working plan. It is a dangerous one..."


It is appalling that in an effort to preserve their union jobs, PEF is perpetuating stereotypes that people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities need to be locked up because they are dangerous. Even worse, they have taken advantage of and given credence to erroneous media reports speculating that the Newtown shooter's autism contributed to the incident and unfounded statements made by the police chief in West Webster linking that shooting incident to the deinstitutionalization of people with psychiatric disabilities.


PEF was joined by two state legislators. Republican Assemblyman Mark Johns, who attended the press conference, echoed PEF's bigoted language, "We cannot allow these types of people to get out on the street into the community as much as we want to main line everybody." Democratic Assemblyman Harry Bronson indicated that he supported closure of the facility, but reinforced PEF's concerns saying, "Put a plan forward so we can continue the closure but in a way that's going to meet the needs of the individuals, their families and the community."


This is the latest example of a growing trend to scapegoat people with disabilities in the debate over gun control, but it is the first time that such rhetoric is being used to oppose implementation of an Olmstead plan.



Tell the union, its parent union, and the state legislators who attended the union's press conference that the disability community won't tolerate its fear mongering, scapegoating and disability profiling!


Click here to send a message 

"Essential Health Benefits" Rule Covers Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment

The federal government recently issued a final rule on "essential health benefits" that most health insurance plans must offer beginning in 2014, including treatment of drug addiction and alcohol abuse.


The New York Times reports the Obama administration says 32 million people will gain access to coverage of mental health care as a result of the new benefits. An additional 30 million people who already have some mental health coverage will see an improvement in their benefits, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said. She noted the new ruling will make it easier for consumers to compare health plans.


In the past, nearly 20 percent of individuals purchasing insurance did not have access to mental health services, and nearly one-third had no coverage for substance use disorder services, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) news release. The new rule provides more Americans with access to quality health care that includes coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services, HHS states.


Each state will set its own benchmark insurance plan that reflects coverage typically offered by employers, the article notes. More than 30 states are using a plan offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield as their benchmark.

National Federation of the Blind To Award 30 Scholarships In 2013

National Federation of the Blind The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is now accepting applications for its national scholarship program from freshmen beginning college this fall on up through graduate students. The 30 scholarships range in value from $3,000 to $12,000, and include a trip to Orlando in July for the worlds largest convention for the blind. To learn more and to apply, please visit Applications must be received by March 31, 2013. Membership is not required. 

Please pass this scholarship information on to eligible students, counselors, teachers, parents, college disability offices, libraries for the blind, your group's listserv, offices for assessing equipment for the blind or visually impaired, radio reading services, the state announcement section of NFB-NEWSLINEŽ, and any other outlet you think of that will help blind students discover this program.

Email: [email protected]


2013 Youth Transitions Fellowship

HSC FoundationThe HSC Foundation, in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), is now accepting applications for a paid fellowship position with the organizations' disability youth transition and collaboration work. This fellowship is ideal for a person with a disability who has an interest in youth career transitions and employment solutions. The fellowship starts June 2013, and continues for 12 months. Under the supervision of AAPD's Programs' Manager, the Youth Transitions Fellow (YTF) will gain exposure to youth programs serving people with disabilities and will have the opportunity to facilitate collaboration among internship, fellowship, and apprenticeship programs based in the greater Washington, DC area. Applications must be received by 5:00 PM EST on March 22, 2013.


Learn how to apply for the YTF

A Curriculum for Self-Advocates

The National Autism Resource and Information Center is always striving to connect professionals, family members and self-advocates to high-quality resources and timely information on various topics relating to autism and other developmental disabilities. Focus areas include early detection, early intervention and early education, transition from high school into early adulthood, community-based employment, advocacy for families and self-advocates, community inclusion, family and sibling support and much more. They accomplish these goals in a variety of ways which is why they are proud to introduce the Self-Advocacy Curriculum, a collaborative effort between their partners: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, the Sibling Leadership Network and the National Youth Leadership Network.
The Self-Advocacy Curriculum is a tool that is intended to help self-advocates better navigate the world of employment. It contains stories, advice and the perspectives of other self-advocates on various aspects of the employment process.

Nominate a Young Change Maker for the 

Peace First Prize

Peace First PrizeWe know that every day, young people are taking action to strengthen their schools and communities. They are looking beyond themselves, showing compassion and making important and lasting changes to create justice. Yet what do we mostly hear? Negative stories about today's younger generation: that they are lazy, apathetic, even dangerous. It's time to tell a different story. It is time to recognize young leaders who have had the guts to mobilize others to stand up for what they believe.


Our goal is to share this daring work far and wide, invest in their leadership and inspire others to make peacemaking a part of their daily lives. Most importantly, we want to tell the stories of our nominees - incredible stories of young people leading change.


Five Prize winners will each receive a $50,000 Peace First Fellowship over two years to continue their peacemaking work. Through mentoring and coaching, the Peace First Fellowship is a real investment in young people's ability to take their peacemaking to the next level of action and impact. But more than just recognizing a few individuals, we want to tell the thousands of stories about how young people are changing the world.


To do that, we've created two ways to hear these stories. As a young person, you can apply for the Prize directly using the online Application. You should know that we encourage video applications! As an adult or peer, you can also nominate someone using the Nomination Form. One thing to keep in mind...and this is important: youth nominated by someone else must still fill out an application in order to be considered for the Prize. They will receive one automatically once they are nominated.


The application is simple. It asks for a little bit of background information and what they've done to be peacemakers. The application deadline is April 12, 2013.


After Peace First reviews the applications, we will choose Semi-finalists by May of 2013. Semi-finalists will then each complete a more thorough Semi-Finalist Application. Peace First staff and volunteers will review these applications and select a group of Finalists.


Next, a distinguished group of youth development and education leaders from our Prize Screening Committee will propose a slate of 5-10 Winners. Then our Fellowship Interview Committee, comprised of highly respected civic, business, and community leaders, will interview these proposed Winners to ensure that a group of strong, compelling young people have been selected for this honor. Peace First's Board will confirm the Winners and we'll announce them publicly in the Fall of 2013.

A New Film Called "Beyond the Medical Model"

"Beyond the Medical Model" explores the ways in which the medical model of mental illness has sometimes been forced onto us, and how our own interpretations have sometimes been disregarded. It connects information about alternative approaches (like the trauma model) to interviews with national and international figures (Robert Whitaker, Jacqui Dillon, Gail Hornstein, Ruta Mazelis and more) and the stories of many people in our own community. The film has been developed by the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (RLC).


The film's primary aim is to encourage us all to step out of the box of any one model and define our own stories as one step on the road to healing.


To view a trailer click here 


Click here to learn more about the Western Massachusetts RLC

Federal Government Eases Requirements to Hire People with Disabilities

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a final rule that will simplify how the Federal Government hires people with disabilities by removing the requirement of certification of job readiness. Currently, people with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities and psychiatric disabilities are required to submit written proof from a doctor, vocational rehabilitation specialist or disability benefits agency stating that the individual can perform the work. This regulation supports Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities.

RAMP: Building Partnerships

Community Partnerships RAMP has been securing partnerships with community organizations and businesses. RAMP has secured a partnership with Village Barber and Beauty in Albany that will allow young people interested in a barbering career to job shadow and potentially work as apprentices under the owner and master barber Reginald Graham.


RAMP has also partnered with the Riverview Missionary Baptist Church in Coeymans, NY. The partnership will allow RAMP to use Riverview's Church van to transport RAMP participants to and from different activities as needed, and will only cost the program fuel costs.


As a result of the later partnership, six Albany RAMP youth were able to attend FTNYS' Legislative Luncheon on February 12, 2012. In addition to participating in the event, youth were also able to visit the NYS Museum, where they viewed various exhibits as well as had the opportunity to ride a carousel that is over 100 years old. Needless to say, this was one of the highlights of their day.


RAMP is continuing to reach out to local businesses and organizations for partnerships, donations of gift cards, assistance with food and snacks for weekly meetings, and tax deductible monetary donations. If you would like to support RAMP, or know someone who would so that we can continue to provide necessary, high quality mentoring to the disabled youth in our community, please contact YP! Mentoring Coordinator at 518-432-0333 ext. 19 or [email protected].

Price Chopper Donates to RAMP

Price Chopper Supermarket, located in Glenmont, New York, has made a donation to the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP). Price Chopper donated numerous napkins, 250 cups, and a $25 gift card in support of RAMP at the beginning of March.


RAMP is a high tech, career focused mentoring program for Albany County youth with disabilities who are also at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Price Chopper's donation will assist RAMP in providing snacks for weekly meetings where youth meet to grow and learn about themselves as well as careers. RAMP will serve 30 local youth this year.


YOUTH POWER! cannot express how much this support means to us, and more importantly, to the young people of the program. We give our most sincere thanks and appreciation for Price Chopper's generosity.


For more information about contributing to RAMP or becoming a community partner, please contact Elijah Fagan-Solis, Mentoring Coordinator at (518) 432-0333 ext. 19 or [email protected]

YOUTH POWER! is the New York State network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change.  Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences because no one knows what it is like for us better than we do.  Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we empower young people to be active citizens who are aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulations and laws.  We are young people helping other people, ensuring availability of self-help and peer support while changing systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Nothing About Us Without Us!    @YOUTHPOWERNY