YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
NYS OMH Announces Regional Centers of Excellence
Speaking out in Support of Deinstitutionalization
Gov. Cuomo Announces New Commissioners of OMH & OPWDD and Deputy Secretary for Health
Celebrate the ADA Anniversary
Smithsonian Launches online Disability History Exhibit
Summer Food Service Program
Upcoming NYC Regional Forum
YP! Co-Sponsoring Transition Age Youth Institute

New York State Office of Mental Health

Announces Regional Centers of Excellence

Regional Centers of Excellence


The New York State Office Of mental Health released a plan for Regional Centers of Excellence on July 10, 2013.   Nearly 175 years after the opening of the first Asylum, the time has come to fundamentally change the way we think about mental health in New York State.  Forces of change such as Health care reform, managed care, the Americans with Disabilities Act - Olmstead decision, budget challenges at all levels of government and a movement to address the premature death of those with serious mental illness have motivated OMH to form a new plan for a new era.


Recently, Acting Commissioner Kristin Woodlock held a listening tour to share OMH's vision and gain input from New Yorkers.  YOUTH POWER! members attended these events and your input helped to shape the RCE Plan.  A lot of people voiced excitement and concern about how OMH would achieve this transformation.


Moving from institutional care to community services is a major piece of the Regional Centers of Excellence Plan.  Over $1.3 billion per year is spent on OMH hospital treatment and care for 10,000 individuals, while $5.3 billion is spent on mental health care in the community for a population of more than 700,000 people.  New York's historical choice to maintain 24 State operated hospitals is coming to an end. New York currently has more state operated hospitals than California, Texas, New Jersey and Michigan combined.


The plan spans a three (3) year timeframe. Transformation of this magnitude cannot be achieved overnight. A multi-year plan provides needed time for community-level planning and priority setting, staff training as well as establishment of support services in the community. Over the course of the next three years, OMH will establish 15 Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) across the State. RCEs will be regionally-based networks of inpatient and community-based services, each with a specialized inpatient hospital program located at its center.


"We applaud OMH for taking this important step toward deinstitutionalization" said Stephanie Orlando, YP! Executive Director.  "Far to long we have relied on services that have poor outcomes, separate us from our support system and even add to our traumatic experiences."  


It is crucial that adequate funding go toward community based services in order for this plan to be successful.  Peer and family support must be given the resources to engage with more individuals.  YOUTH POWER! also strongly supports the increasing trauma informed services.


Investing in the community is just one element of making the plan a success.  Communities need to be educated about their new options as they become available.  People seem to fear hospital closures because they feel it means they are loosing a service in their region.  OMH and all of us advocacy groups need to make sure people see the light at the end of the tunnel.  "We can transform the system to be a better one if we are all engaged in the effort.  We need youth and family members at the planning tables," said Ms. Orlando.  Regional Centers of excellence teams are being formed in the five OMH regions.  You can nominate yourself for this team by visiting this link


To learn more about the Regional Centers of Excellence Plan visit





Speaking Out in Support of Deinstitutionalization


There was a terrific press conference on July 17 featuring several consumer/survivor advocates talking about their own experiences and how the community system of care was essential to their recovery. An outstanding job by Stephanie Orlando of YOUTH POWER!, Carla Rabinowitz of ICL, Maura Kelley, President of NYAPRS and Kathryn Cascio of The Mental Health Empowerment Project---all spoke very eloquently about their own personal experiences. Also, a great job by NYAPRS new policy person, Briana Gilmore who gave very strong and supportive remarks about the need for system redesign. The one consistent concern, which we will undoubtedly weave into all discussion about the Centers of Excellence, is the need for full reinvestment of closures and work force attrition to be dedicated to community mental health services. 


Stephanie Orlando Stands at podium speaking.  Another speaker and several YP! members stand at her side.



Consumer Advocates Tell Policy Makers, Public:

Focus of State Mental Health Services Redesign

Must Be on Promoting our Recovery in the Community




Statewide representatives of New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities offered strong support for newly released state plans to consolidate 24 state hospitals into 15 regional centers and insisted that Office of Mental Health reforms focus on redeploying the workforce and reinvesting mental health dollars to fill the cracks and strengthen community recovery systems of care.


"It has long been very clear that tens of thousands of New Yorkers like me can recover and live full and productive lives in the community, often with assistance from the right mix of modern services and supports," said Maura Kelley of Buffalo. "The Cuomo Administration plan to reconfigure and reinvest are several steps in the right direction."


"Redeploying the state workforce and reinvesting the savings to boost the efforts of the nonprofit workforce is a winning strategy that will work in tandem to give us the community system we want and need," Carla Rabinowitz of New York City agreed.


OMH's new plan includes a retraining and redeployment of state institutional workers to enhance over 24 state outpatient service 'hubs.' Hubs will be expanded in communities that will see inpatient beds close, like Elmira, Rochester and Binghamton.


The advocates said their peers have long sought a full shift to a recovery and community-centered system of care.


"At last, we have a bold plan to modernize our state system and move the resources to where we need them the most," said Briana Gilmore of Albany.


During the mid-1990's, legislators approved a plan that closed 5 state hospitals and reinvested $200 million in savings to create critically needed local community services and supports.


Only a few facilities have closed since, they said, and almost none of those savings went into the community expansion that was needed, they said.


"This plan's commitment to fully reinvest the savings will help ensure we don't repeat the mistakes of the past," said Stephanie Orlando of Albany, referring to previous deinstitutionalization efforts that didn't provide an adequate level of community services. "With public funds being invested back into communities, youth, families and adults should be provided a choice in the supports they receive closer to home."


The advocates spelled out how they thought reinvestment would best be used.


"We know what works....good hospital discharge planning and follow up and more peer support, wellness, housing, employment and crisis supports," said Rabinowitz.


"Moving the focus of care and public funding into the community is not only the right way to go, it's what is required under the law," Kelley pointed out, referring to the Supreme Court's 'Olmstead' requirement that states serve people with disabilities in the most integrated community settings.


"The Olmstead decision indicates that persons with psychiatric disabilities must be served in the least restrictive setting possible," said Gilmore. "Closing state psychiatric hospitals is only half of the equation. Without adequate reinvestment into recovery oriented, rehabilitative services, people will not be given the option to recover fully in the community."


The advocates urged the Governor to ensure that New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities have major input into how and where reinvestment dollars were spent.


"I would also like to ask Governor Cuomo to make this process transparent," said Kathryn Cascio of Albany. "Current and former users of mental health services must be at the table when deciding how to use reinvestment dollars."


The advocates recognized that many other groups, including state labor unions, will be weighing in on Cuomo's plan.


"We are the ones for whom these services are directed and we want to make sure that our own concerns and needs are considered first and foremost," said Kelley.



Courtney Burke to serve as Deputy Secretary for Health

Laurie Kelley to serve as Acting Commissioner of OPWDD

Dr. Ann Sullivan to serve as Acting Commissioner of OMH

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the appointments of Courtney Burke as the administration's new Deputy Secretary for Health, Laurie Kelley as the Acting Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and Dr. Ann Sullivan to serve as the Acting Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health in November 2013. The Governor intends to nominate both Ms. Kelley and Dr. Sullivan to serve as Commissioners of OPWDD and OMH, respectively, during the next legislative session. Their nominations are subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate.


"Throughout their careers, each of these individuals has dedicated themselves to protecting and preserving the health of all New Yorkers," said Governor Cuomo. "Ms. Burke's excellent work at the OPWDD and her key role in the creation of the Justice Center make her exceptionally qualified for her new role as Deputy Secretary for Health. Ms. Kelley's time as head of the Ulster-Greene ARC and her experience caring for people with developmental disabilities make her an excellent choice to be the next Commissioner of the OPWDD. Finally, Dr. Sullivan's experience at Elmhurst and Queens Hospital Centers, which serves 2 million New Yorkers, will allow the OMH to excel under her leadership and guidance. I thank these three committed public servants for taking on these positions, and look forward to their continued work in our administration."

"I am excited to continue my work with Governor Cuomo to ensure the highest quality care and services for individuals in our state who need it the most and to further improving our entire health care system," said Ms. Burke. "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for appointing me to this position and look forward to continuing our progress."

"I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for the honor of serving the people of the state of New York, especially our vulnerable population," said Ms. Kelley. "In the last two and a half years, our state has made great strides in ensuring the proper protection and care for people with developmental disabilities. I hope to build on that progress and achieve even more in the immediate future."

"I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity to serve as the Commissioner of Mental Health and to work to provide quality mental health services for all New Yorkers," said Dr. Sullivan. "I look forward to the new direction set by the Medicaid Redesign Team and especially the focus on integrated care and real recovery from mental illness."

Courtney Burke most recently served as the Commissioner of OPWDD. Previously, she was the Director of the Rockefeller Institute's New York State Health Policy Research Center, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Burke was employed by the New York State Office of Advocate for Persons with Disabilities for several years, including as the senior policy analyst, and by the New York State Department of Health.

During her tenure as Commissioner of OPWDD, Ms. Burke:

* Decreased the number of individuals with developmental disabilities living in developmental centers operated by OPWDD by 19%between April 2011 and February 2013 and moved them into more integrated settings. Fewer than 1,000 people are now living in campus-based institutions operated by OPWDD.
* Implemented numerous reforms resulting in an overall 21% decline in allegations of abuse and serious incidents at state and nonprofit provider agencies when comparing the most recent six-month period ending March 1, 2013 to the six-month time frame ending September 1, 2011.
* Reduced the use of physical interventions in state-operated programs by 19% in the six-month period from August 2012 to January 2013 as compared to the previous six months.
* Submitted the People First Medicaid Waiver to the federal government to restructure OPWDD's delivery system to one that provides more integrated and better managed supports and services.
* Reached a system transformation agreement with the federal government that makes funding for services more transparent while also increasing self-directed services, employment, and community living. 
* Returned 67% of eligible individuals with development disabilities to New York from out-of-state residential schools since July 2011.
* Developed core competencies, and a code of ethics for all direct support professionals serving people with developmental disabilities in New York.
* Created a provider performance report card, which is publicly available on OPWDD's website.

Ms. Burke is succeeded by Laurie Kelley who will serve as the Acting Commissioner of OPWDD. 

Laurie Kelley has been the Executive Director for the Ulster-Greene ARC for eleven years, where she led the Taconic region on Portal Initiatives and Individualized Supports and oversaw a $50 million budget and over 1,000 employees. During her tenure as Executive Director, she reduced physical interventions in behaviorally challenged individuals by more than 80%. In addition, Ms. Kelley initiated successful regional collaboratives to share IT departments and achieve network accreditation among ARC agencies. Before joining ARC, she served as Vice President of Business Development, Professional Services, and General Services at Benedictine Hospital where she worked for 19 years. Ms. Kelley received a Bachelor's Degree in Food and Nutrition from the University of Iowa, as well as a Master's in Business Administration from Union College.


Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan, M.D. is the Senior Vice President for the Queens Health Network of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. As Senior Vice President, she is responsible for Elmhurst and Queens Hospital Centers, two public hospitals which serve a community of over 2 million New York City residents. In addition, Dr. Sullivan is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai.

Dr. Sullivan is an active advocate for her patients and her profession, is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and has served as the Speaker of the American Psychiatric Association's Assembly and on its Board of Trustees. She is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, a member of the American College of Psychiatrists and the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. 

Dr. Sullivan is an appointee of the New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council and its Mental Health Services Committee, the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team and the National Quality Forum Hospital Measures Group. She is also on the Board of Directors of the New York City Mental Health Association. 

Dr. Sullivan attended New York University Medical School and completed her Psychiatric Residency at New York University/Bellevue Hospital in1978. She lives in New York City with her husband Stephen who is also a psychiatrist and has two daughters, Elizabeth and Christine.

John Tauriello, Esq. will serve as Acting Commissioner for OMH from August 1, 2013 until Dr. Sullivan's arrival in November. Mr. Tauriello is a current Deputy Commissioner of OMH, where he serves as its Counsel. He is a nationally recognized leader in mental hygiene law and a life-long advocate for individuals with mental illness. He will take over for Kristin M. Woodlock who will be leaving OMH at the end of July to join her family who recently relocated to New York City.




We at YOUTH POWER! want to especially thank Kristin Woodlock for her years leadership at OMH.  We worked closely with Kristin since her years in the Division of Children and Families.  Her work on the Children's Plan and now the Regional Centers of Excellence has left a positive lasting impact in OMH.  Thank YOU Kristin!! We will miss working with you at OMH.


Celebrate the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act  

Celebrate the ADA Anniversary - July 26 and throughout the year, the progress made through implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in your workplaces, schools and communities - explore and share: Toolkit, Videos, Resources, Training, Events Calendar, Learn about ADA


The ADA is a federal civil rights law that protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination and provides for equal access and opportunity in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.



Smithsonian Launches Online Exhibit on Disability History - Everybody: An Artifact History of Disability in America 

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has unveiled an online exhibit of disability in America. The exhibit "Everybody: An Artifact History of Disability in America" features sections on disability and history, people, places, technology and more. The exhibit presents history as viewed from the perspective of people with disabilities, America's largest minority. 


Visit the exhibit

The Summer Food Service Program

Summer Food Rocks - English   

Summer Food Rocks - Spanish 


It's starting to warm up and school vacation is here.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service sponsors summer nutrition programs available to school children that receive free and reduced lunch throughout the year.  This information may be useful to some of your program participants, their families, or some of the programs you work with.   Below please find links to both English and Spanish flyers for the Summer Food Service (SFSP) to distribute as appropriate.  The National Hunger Clearinghouse is listed on the flyer so it can be that can be distributed anywhere in the US.


Although about 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch ProgramĀ during the regular school year, only about 3 million kids are fed in SFSP summer programs. For many of these children, summer vacation exposes them to an increased risk of hunger and developmental decline. Children need good nutrition all year long.  When school is out during the summer months, many children no longer have access to even one nutritious meal each day.  The Summer Food Service Program helps to fill the gap.


We hope this information is useful and please distribute to help ensure more children get nutritious food during the summer months so that they are ready to learn during the school year.


Summer Food Rocks - English   

Summer Food Rocks - Spanish

Upcoming Regional Youth Forums
The YOUth Forum Needs YOU!

Across the state YP! has been holding regional youth forums to introduce our network to more young people, share a sense of hope and power, and to listen to youth share their stories to help us make systems change.  The last of the 2013 regional forums will be held in New York City.



New York City Youth Forum

August 30, 2013

Barnes & Noble 86th Street And Lex


For more information and to help plan:

Pauline Gordon, New York City Youth Partner

[email protected]

(347) 880-2735

YP! Co-Sponsoring Transition Age Youth Institute September 17 - 18, 2013



Save the Date! Transition Age Youth Institute September 17 - 18, 2013 The Saratoga Hilton, Saratoga Springs NY
YOUTH POWER! has partnered with the 
New York State Rehabilitation Association (NYSRA), Mental Health Association of New York State (MHANYS), Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, Inc (LDA) and the New York State Coalition for Children's Mental Health Services (CCMHS) to sponsor the Transition Age Youth Institute. Save the dates on your calendars; this promises to be an exciting event. On the partnership, YP! Executive Director Stephanie Orlando said "we are excited to partner to highlight successful practices as well as continue the dialogue on what services and supports young people need to transition successfully to adulthood."
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