Hevesi, Mannion, Advocates Urge Governor Hochul to Sign Bill to Identify the Number of Kids in Foster Care who have Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD)

New York, NY – With the New York State legislature having finished its 2023 session, legislators Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Senator John Mannion are renewing calls for Governor Hochul to sign A2798/S3119 into law. If enacted, the bill would require New York State to identify the total number of children who are in foster care and have I/DD, with the ultimate goal of referring children to available supports and services.

Prior to passing the Senate and Assembly in this session, the bill passed the legislature in 2022, with Governor Hochul vetoing the measure in December. Hevesi and Mannion – representing their committees on Children & Families, and Disabilities, respectively – immediately took to working with partners at the start of 2023 to put the legislation back on the Governor’s desk. The legislators succeeded in doing so, with unanimous support in both houses of the legislature.

“If we don’t know the extent of this problem, we can’t solve the problem. Thousands of kids with I/DD could become homeless after leaving foster care, solely because our state doesn’t have a mechanism to identify and help them,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Committee on Children & Families. “Our partners at OCFS are fantastic in implementing supports, but they need the go ahead from Governor Hochul in order to do this. Anything short of a full commitment here from the Executive will leave us unable to address many preventable and likely life-long problems for foster youth.”

Senator John W. Mannion, Chairman of the Disabilities Committee said, “I sponsored this legislation to help ensure that children with I/DD in foster care receive the support and services they need. The data collection requirements in this bill will give us a better understanding of this population, and the evaluation and analysis provisions will help us improve the way we serve them. I thank Assemblyman Hevesi for his continued partnership and the many advocacy groups who have worked diligently alongside us to get this legislation passed by both houses.”

The legislators are joined by advocates from across New York, including the IDD/CW Collaborative (Collaborative) – a coalition representing nine of the most influential child welfare agencies in the state – which recently reached out to Governor Hochul directly to implore the Executive to sign the legislation into law.

“We enthusiastically support the pending legislation requiring OCFS to collect data on children with I/DD who are in foster care in New York State,” the Collaborative stated in a June 20 letter to the Governor, “We have been advocating for such information so that we can better support these children and can plan next steps for youth as they age out of foster care.”

In their letter, the Collaborative cited estimates from the National Foster Youth Institute that 25% of foster youth become homeless within four years of exiting foster care, a number the Collaborative believes increases significantly for children with I/DD who may not be receiving necessary support.

“All of us at The I/DD-Child Welfare Collaborative applaud Assemblyman Hevesi and Senator Mannion for standing up for children with intellectual disabilities (I/DD) who are in foster care in New York State,” said Alan Mucatel, the Collaborative's president. “This law will allow the Office of Children and Family Services to collect important data to help identify children with I/DD, evaluate the level of support they receive, and plan accordingly for them when they age-out of foster care. It is critical that the legislation passed is signed into law to ensure that the children this bill supports can live their best lives, as all individuals have a right to enjoy.”

“Children and youth with I/DD often end up in a child welfare setting as a last resort due to the lack of access to appropriate supports and services. This system was never set up to support the complex needs of these vulnerable children and youth,” said Deborah Napolitano, a behavioral science professor at Daemen University, and the leading advocate in the drafting of this legislation. “This bill will help us understand the scope of the problem in order to provide these individuals with the resources they need to meet their goals and achieve their hopes and dreams, which is exactly what we want for all of our children.”