‘We will keep them safe’: Vestal mother advocates loosening COVID-19 restrictions on group homes

first_img“Visitation remains prohibited anywhere except within sight of the residential facility and shall not include sitting in a non-agency vehicle or leaving the premises monitored by staff,” the document reads. They say being able to bring their kids home for a visit or a trip out to dinner or ice cream is an important part of their quality of life. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she says those visits became impossible. According to documents provided to 12 News by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities: “Places are opening, it’s fourth of July weekend. People can go to parks, and go swimming and have BBQ’s and our children are sitting in homes without their families,” she says. “We will keep them safe. We love our children. We’re not going to jeopardize them.” Jennifer Schutzer lives in Vestal, while her son Brian lives in a group home here in Broome County. She says they love spending weekends by the pool together. While Visitation is allowed in New York’s group homes, coming and going is not. “People haven’t seen their children in three months, people have had their children home for three months which is no easy feat with our children’s needs,” she says. The office told 12 News in a statement: Schutzer says she and parents accross the state are pushing to change that through a group called New York Alliance for Developmental Disabilities. center_img “I got a phone call on the 16th telling me that they were going into lockdown and if I took him out he would not be allowed back until all of this was over,” she says. The goal she says is to make sure the reopening process doesn’t leave behind individuals living with developmental disabilities. “He would swim, he would eat we would always have friends over and the pool he has a ball with them,” she says. This left parents like herself with a choice. They could either allow their children to remain in their group home or take care of them at home. Something Schutzer says is becoming increasingly difficult as parents go back to work. “Families of people with developmental disabilities were able to resume visits with their loved ones in participating group homes all across New York State as of Friday, June 19. OPWDD continues to work with the NYS Department of Health on reopening steps that will safely include in-person services, home visits and community outings. As always, OPWDD’s number one priority as New York takes steps to return to a ‘new normal’ continues to be ensuring the health and safety of the people we support,” the statement read. VESTAL (WBNG) — While New York State opened up visitation in group homes late last month, some parents say that’s not enough. 12 News reached out to Governor Cuomo’s office as well as the home where Schutzer’s son is staying, we have yet to hear back. “We’ve been in existence maybe five weeks and we have 3900 members,” Schutzer says. last_img

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