Families call for re-opening adult day care programs

Jacquie Slater
Updated: June 09, 2020 07:43 PM
Created: June 09, 2020 07:32 PM

It's a plea to the governor from the Pickens family of Ballston Spa and thousands of other families across the state of New York facing the same coronavirus challenge.

For the past three months, there have been no day programs for adults with disabilities and no assistance for the families helping their children cope with the abrupt changes to their normal schedule.

"Governor Cuomo, if you're listening to me right now, thank you for all you've done for New York, but please do not forget the disabled population. Do not forget my daughter and the others like her," said Sandra Pickens.

March 17 was the last day that Sandra's daughter, Tessa, attended her day program at the Center for Disability Services in Glenville. Born happy and healthy, Tessa had a stroke when she was just 5 months old. Doctors said she wouldn't live long, and she would never walk.

Now she is 25 and defying the odds.

"She's doing more than they thought. I can't imagine life without her and I'm proud of her and I'm proud of my family," said Sandra.

However, without her day programs, Sandra and her husband Dave say Tessa is regressing. Frustrated with a lack of information on where adult day programs fall in New York's re-opening plan, they reached out to NewsChannel 13 for help.

"She's getting frustrated and acting out like she never used to act out before by self-inflicting harm to herself. Pinching her arms, scratching her neck, throwing herself back because she's not as active as she was before," said Sandra.

Sandra has made repeated calls to the governor's office and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, also known as OPWDD. She says they went unanswered until she told OPWDD she was contacting the news.

In a statement sent to NewsChannel 13 on Tuesday, OPWDD said they're working closely with the Department of Health to establish a process to safely return to regular activities, but declined to give any details or provide an estimated date for adult day programs to resume.

The Pickens hope that by sharing their story they can shed some light on the importance of these programs in so many lives.

"Kids with special needs, adults with special needs, they thrive with routine. When you get outside that routine that's, you know, when they have a difficult time," said David Pickens.

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