July 17, 2020


On July 10th, OPWDD released interim guidelines authorizing providers like Wildwood to begin providing Day Services at their sites beginning July 15th. This was an important step in restoring our ability to provide people the supports they so desperately need and we are working tirelessly to interpret and come into compliance with the complex, 10-page guidance document that was issued Friday night. There are several points we want to highlight with you as we work towards this next phase:

  • Agencies across the state were caught completely off guard by this announcement from OPWDD. Right up to July 10th, guidance had been that this may happen in late August/early September and Wildwood and others were actively engaged in workgroups developing what Day services could look like in this “new world”. Given this sudden change by OPWDD, we ask for your continued patience while we work to drastically speed up this timeframe and comply with all of the regulations given to us. In fact, OPWDD just issued updated guidance late yesterday with changes to their original guidance just a week ago, so this is a rapidly changing process.
  • COVID-19 remains a very real presence and risk in our communities. Therefore, please know that all of our planning is centered around safety of all stakeholders and striking a balance of safety with the very real need for people to receive the supports they need. As we move forward, everything we put into place may need to change and evolve based on the current numbers of cases in our communities.
  • We are going to need you as our continued partners throughout this process. Our ability to minimize risks of infection, and therefore keep our sites open, will rely in large part on open dialogue between us in terms of any possible exposures. It will also be critical for all of us to avoid high risk behaviors when not in program (unnecessary travel, especially to hot spots and avoiding large gatherings, etc.). This will be key.
  • In addition, New York State and OPWDD have removed the special funding they had put into place for providers over the last 4 months to help offset the losses in revenue from having to  downscale our supports. Because of this significant change, it is imperative that everyone we support continue to engage in the activities offered to the extent they are able. Please share your thoughts and ideas as to how we can continue to adapt our offerings to encourage the maximum levels of engagement from those we support. 
  • We will continue to offer virtual and community-based services in addition to the site-based options so that there are multiple ways for people to be supported, depending on their preferences and ability to conform to the requirements to wear masks and social distance at sites. We will be exploring these options with you over the coming weeks as we continue our planning. This exploration will initially include your ability to transport your loved one due to capacity restrictions being put on providers within vans and buses. 

We do not yet have an “opening date” identified but will continue to communicate regularly over the coming days. We have made a lot of progress since last Friday’s surprise announcement and anticipate being able to have a complete plan for reopening our sites, including a start date, very soon. When we have that more comprehensive plan, we will share that out so that you have all of the information you need to work with us on the best ways to support your loved one. Thank you for understanding our need to get this right, and we are always available to discuss any questions and concerns you may have. 

Be well,
Lou Deepe

Jill Rafferty-Weinisch
Strategic Director of Vocational, Day & Community Supports         

Robin Sheldon 
Director of Day Services

Original article from WNYT News Channel 13:

Families of people with disabilities in group homes and day habilitation programs are calling on the state to allow visitation and programming to resume as other businesses and school programs have been given the green light.

It's a story NewsChannel 13 has been covering.

Several lawmakers and families joined in a virtual conference on Monday, urging the governor to take action.

These families say enough is enough. They are tired of the standard response that they are working on it.

They feel the state has forgotten the disabled population and with each passing day, the damage being done continues to get worse.

The Zoom meeting was led by Assmblymember Melissa Miller of Nassau County. Joining in from our area was Assemblymember Mary Beth Walsh and Mary Ann Allen, who is the director of the Wildwood Programs in and around Schenectady. Both have adult children with developmental disabilities.

Last week, NewsChannel 13 met with a family in Ballston Spa who said their daughter has been regressing without the needed supports and routines her dayhab program offers.

At the time, NewsChannel 13 reached out to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and we were told they're working on the reopening vision for the programs and what visitation to group homes might look like.

A week later that same family said a call from OPWDD gave them the same response - we're working on it. Every person in the Zoom call said they've been told the same thing. Now they are demanding a better response, saying a timeline must be laid out, and they want to know some specifics.

Read the full article and watch the videos, interviews by clicking here. 

By Rebecca Shurtleff

Earlier this spring, the Wildwood Foundation branched out with a new event: Trivia Night. The fundraiser was held in mid-March at Fort Orange Brewing in downtown Albany, and ended up being highly successful in both the fundraising and community outreach aspects. 

Only a couple weeks later, we all found ourselves staying safe at home in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. Enter Virtual Trivia Night.  Much like its precursor, Virtual Trivia Night was created as an attempt to bring people together. This time, however, it all had to be done online.

By Angela Tobin, Executive Director of Bus Stop Club

Bus Stop Club was created by Dr. Brian Sheridan, a pediatrician from Schoolhouse Road Pediatrics located in Guilderland. There was a need for an expansion in the definition of “family” when striving to provide a comprehensive care program - one that ensures each and every member of the family remains healthy and well adjusted.  Dr. Sheridan recognized that in the shuffle and chaos of caring for a child with a chronic illness or disability, the significance of the impact on the siblings in the family is too often overlooked. Bus Stop Club provides support and family memories through encouragement for the siblings of children with serious illness or developmental, physical, or intellectual disabilities. Our vision is to ensure that our siblings have the ability to feel understood, valued, and connected to each other and the community. Monthly meetings provide support to participants 5-15 years old at 10 different locations in the capital district, and recently monthly meetings have been added to  provide services on site at the Wildwood location in Latham, New York.

By Michelle A. Brown

We each have our own personal daily rhythm, which is a source of comfort and enjoyment to us. During the last several months, due to our state’s stay-at-home advisory and social distancing orders, we have experienced disruption in our routines and decreased face-to -face contact with family, friends, and neighbors. Consequently, we may sense a loss of interpersonal connection and feel isolated and lonely. It is helpful and reassuring to recognize that these losses are merely perceived. Our communities are still intact, just temporarily unable to assemble in their usual places. All our friends and loved ones are there for us, as always, and they need us as much as we need them. It is important to remember the organizations we enjoy are still there too.  In fact, they are reaching out to connect with us through websites, e-mails, and apps, among other things. Like them, we can develop creative new ways to reach out and connect with people and communities that are important to us.


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