People With Special Needs Could Fall Victim To Budget Cuts

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In the two years that Jared LePage has been coming to the St. Lawrence NYSARC Work Center in Massena, he has benefited from cleaning television remotes for a cable company, making jewelry in an arts program for his mom and learning karate. 

But his mother says she worries funding cuts could threaten the work center program and his interaction with others with special needs.

"My first thought was, where's Jared going to go? What is he going to do all day? What kind of activity is he going to have if the work center is closed," said Angele LePage, Jared's mom.              

The Massena Seaway Industries work center is one of three operated by St. Lawrence NYSARC. 

A 6 percent cut in Medicaid funding being pushed by the Cuomo Administration could force the closure of one of the work sites as well as a Day Habilitation program site.

"After a while, something has to give. You can only tighten up so much. So, I think the impact would be significant," said Daphne Pickert, CEO/executive director of St. Lawrence NYSARC.

The local NYSARC chapter serves 750 people with a staff of about 600 workers. 

Agency officials say the jobs of one out of every 10 staff members could be cut if more than $1.3 million isn't included in the new state budget. 

While the Assembly and Senate have already agreed to restore the Medicare funds in the budget, Angele LePage and St. Lawrence NYSARC officials are keeping their fingers crossed state lawmakers will now be able to strike a deal with the governor.      

Saturday, September 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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