State Investment Aims to Improve Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Cultural and Linguistic Competence
Three-year Plan to Include Plan Development, Community Engagement, Plan Implementation, and Measurements of Progress
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities has entered a three-year, $10 million partnership with Georgetown University's National Center for Cultural Competence to advance the policies and practices of diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural and linguistic competence into all components of the OPWDD system of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.
"As we work hard to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our communities, I am excited to join this important partnership with Georgetown University," Governor Hochul said. "This three-year undertaking will help break down barriers that often prevent New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, their families and the people who support them from receiving the services they need to thrive."
OPWDD Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld said, "Georgetown University's NCCC has distinguished itself as a leader in the DEI space. With this partnership, OPWDD will be able to draw upon their expertise as we learn from our stakeholders and improve our awareness of diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural competency issues within our current system. New York State, led by Governor Hochul, has shown our strong commitment to addressing DEI and CLC issues. With NCCC's support and guidance, OPWDD will be well equipped to not only improve cultural competence within our workforce but also more effectively reach a broader group of stakeholders who are in need of our services."
Associate Professor and Director of Georgetown University NCCC Tawara D. Goode said, "The faculty and staff of Georgetown University NCCC are excited to partner with New York OPWDD and other stakeholders to advance CLC and DEI in the system of supports and services for persons with developmental disabilities, their families, and the communities in which they live. We applaud OPWDD for its commitment and the investment of resources to enhance the capacity of its current system to be responsive to the interests and needs of persons with developmental disabilities and their families across diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups."
State Senator John W. Mannion said, "People diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is imperative that those entrusted with their care reflect this reality and have the proper training regarding diversity, equity, and cultural inclusion. New York's partnership with Georgetown University will bring best practices to OPWDD and allow the state to better support New Yorkers with I/DD. I applaud Governor Hochul for her commitment to fortify and continually improve the state's care delivery system."
Chief Diversity Officer for New York State Julissa Gutierrez said, "This partnership is a first of its kind investment to strengthen diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural and linguistic competence across the entire OPWDD system. In prioritizing stakeholder engagement, including with people seeking services and their families, it's clear that Georgetown University's NCCC and OPWDD understand that the people who are most impacted by government policies are the experts in creating the solutions. I applaud Governor Hochul and Commissioner Neifeld's leadership and I look forward to learning from this partnership so that we can embed diversity, equity, and inclusion across all State policies, programs, and services."
Chief Disability Officer for New York State Kimberly Hill said, "I am thrilled that, under Governor Hochul's leadership, OPWDD and Georgetown University are partnering together to focus on the improvement of diversity, equity and inclusion. We should be doing everything possible to improve upon the ability of all New Yorkers with disabilities to obtain the services they need to live independently within our communities, especially if we're able to target communities that have been marginalized. Collaborations such as this will go a long way towards truly creating a more inclusive state."
Throughout the partnership, OPWDD will be working with programmatic and administrative teams from the NCCC that will not only be looking at the agency's policies and programs, but also will review core values, structures, practices, behaviors and attitudes to weave CLC and DEI into the core of the OPWDD system of supports. The initiative has two main areas of focus — OPWDD specifically and the service system as a whole.
This project is the result of extensive stakeholder outreach to underserved communities during OPWDD's five-year strategic planning process. People seeking services, family members, friends and service providers recommended that OPWDD prioritize DEI and CLC in planning for the years ahead. Additionally, federal funding allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act will give OPWDD a unique one-time funding opportunity to support strengthening these areas.
By conducting remote sessions and providing consultations, Georgetown will help service providers, staff, people with developmental disabilities and their families develop a plan of action. The university will assess the professional development needs of OPWDD staff and provide ongoing training with an emphasis on organizational change. Georgetown will also provide OPWDD with consultation services on developing standards, benchmarks and other measurements to assess DEI and CLC within the entire service system. The results will become part of the OPWDD Action Plan.
Georgetown will also offer technical assistance and consultation services to the NYS Community of Practice, an organization for developmental disability service providers. The university will engage the provider network to assess existing strengths and weaknesses to advance DEI and cultural and linguistic competence within their organizations.
Additionally, OPWDD will issue a request for applications for DEI-related grants to providers within the OPWDD service system. OPWDD will issue grants with consultation assistance from Georgetown and will encourage DEI across the entire service system for people with developmental disabilities.
Georgetown University's NCCC provides national leadership and contributes to the body of knowledge on cultural and linguistic competency within systems and organizations. NCCC places emphasis on translating evidence into policy and practice for programs and personnel concerned with health and mental health care delivery, administration, education and advocacy.
For more information, visit OPWDD and Georgetown University's NCCC, or contact [email protected].
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