Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sinergia's 2012 Christmas Celebration


Sinergia commemorates the holidays again this year with its annual Christmas Celebration on Friday, December 21st from 3:00 to 6:00pm. This is an annual tradition that has been sponsored by the NYC Sanitation Dept. for over two decades. It is the highlight of the year for children since they receive beautiful gifts from Santa Claus and there is a wonderful feast for the families. Other than our Summer Picnic this is the one occasion when families, staff and the community gather to celebrate the holidays together.

The entertainment this year will be provided by Iluminada Hilario who will sing English and Spanish Christmas songs as well as play the guitar. We will also have Johnny Cajigas and his wife sing and play a Christmas music medley.

Again this year we would like to say "thank you" to Scott Lancelot, Maria Quintero and the men of NYC Sanitation Dept. M7. We are also grateful to John Catsmatidis and his family for their generous support through the years.

We are very appreciative of our staff for their hard work, especially Doris Rodriguez who is the coordinator of the event, Michael Mitchell who will be Master of Ceremonies and the entire team for serving food, assuming hosting duties throughout the event and making sure the children and families are having a great time. Happy Holidays to all! ¡Felicidades a todos!

Note: Sinergia will be closed on Dec. 25, 26, and Jan. 1st.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sinergia Hosts NYAEMP's Family Forum

From the Desk of the NYAEMP President, Wafa Abboud

Good afternoon everyone,

As a result of the massive destruction and impact of Hurricane Sandy, I have waited to send you an overview of NYAEMP's Family Forum with OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke on October 25th at Sinergia. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am sharing with you some of the joy that those of us who were at the Forum experienced. The Family Forum was very successful on many levels. A number of you who were there have told us so, and we thank you. The room was packed, with many standing at the back of the room and in the hallway. All of the participants were moved by the power of the stories they heard that day. I was and am proud to be a member of NYAEMP and to be serving you as the President of the Board of Directors.

Commissioner Burke was accompanied by Jill Gentile (Deputy Commissioner), Donna Limiti (Regional Director 6 & 4) and Pat Sarli (Development of Community Services). They heard from 12 individuals and families representing 10 of our member agencies. Every story was very powerful, both in its personal content as well as the critical role played by the multicultural agency.

Among some of the powerful statements made by individuals/families were the following:

“A native of the Dominican Republic, Ms. P is non-English speaking, has physical disabilities and is often confronted with cultural challenges that impede her ability to advocate for her children. Ms. P did not receive early intervention services because Ms. P. was culturally indoctrinated with the belief that her daughter's behavior and developmental deficits were characteristic of a spoiled child." Ms. P’s agency helped her to understand her daughter’s challenges and was able to help her receive the necessary services.

“Being part of a multicultural agency means so much to me because: “They understand my religious needs making sure I always have a Com-Hab worker to help me with my cooking before Sabbath and the Jewish holidays, as well as making sure I have everything for the holidays...the dedicated staff always make sure I have workers that share my beliefs and are sensitive to the principles I hold dear. This is very important to me especially when my son (with disabilities) is around, so that he hears and sees only things that I would approve of."

"I didn't enjoy the foods on the menus that were done by the nutritionist, and the staff expressed this to her peers. My agency had someone come in and sit down with me and my peers to ask us what we would like to see on the menu. I stated that I like soul food...like collard greens, yams, and mac & cheese. Because this residence has a mixed ethnic group the menus have to appeal to all of us. This is not something that I can have at every agency. They worked with the nutritionist to help us get the foods we like, only healthier."
Commissioner Burke applauded the families for their courage and for the power of their stories. She was observed as being moved to near tears several times. The Commissioner stated that the stories "create fire in my belly and keep me going". She also stated that as OPWDD focuses more on service outcomes, "we need to partner with multicultural agencies…and bring them along with us as we change." Later in the Forum, Jill Gentile reiterated Commissioner Burke's commitment and stated in response to a question about the future of multicultural agencies, "We need them all."

As the president of NYAEMP I want to thank Yvette Watts and Allan Bergman for a magnificent job in preparing for and facilitating NYAEMP's Parent Forum. At the conclusion of the Forum, Yvette presented the Commissioner and Jill Gentile with notebooks containing the typed stories and photographs of the participants as a visual reminder of who we are and what we do.

I also want to thank our Host Mytra Cuadra-lash, Executive Director of Sinergia and her staff for making the afternoon a success with their warm hospitality. The room was filled to capacity with families, consumers and providers all of whom were warmed by the compelling stories everyone shared regarding the various agencies.

We need each other more than ever before. Please accept my thanks for your commitment to NYAEMP and our top priority for the year, which is to ensure the continuation, viability, sustainability and growth of New Yorks' multicultural agencies.

I also extend to you, your families and loved ones and to the individuals and families to whom you provide services and supports my best wishes for a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. All of us have some things for which we are grateful at this time of year.

Below are pictures from the Parent Forum. Thank You, Wafa Abboud


Sinergia bands together to help victims of Hurricane Sandy

Washington Roca is a staff member at Sinergia. He lives in the Rockaways with his family and lost his car and most of his possessions during the hurricane. The staff at Sinergia had a fund drive for victims of Hurricane Sandy, specifically Washington. Below is a letter he sent to us in response.


American Psychiatric Association Approves DSM-5 Revision



Earlier this week, the American Psychiatric Association voted to accept the revised fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is used by clinicians nationwide to diagnose mental health conditions. DSM-5 will be published in spring 2013.

The revision introduces two fundamental changes in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Two distinct autism subtypes, autistic disorder and Asperger syndrome, will be collapsed into one unifying diagnosis of ASD.

The current three symptom domains of social impairment, communication deficits and repetitive/restricted behaviors will become two: social communication impairment and repetitive/restricted behaviors.

These changes have a strong scientific rationale and will have a significant impact on how ASD is diagnosed. It can also affect access to services and influence how the prevalence of ASD is measured.

For more information visit Autism Speaks.
(Photo

Monday, December 3, 2012

College and Job Opportunties for People with Disabilities

Some resources for college and job opportunities for people with disabilities:

1. A series of free webinars on many different topics on postsecondary education options for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). Families, professionals and students with ID can learn about strategies to prepare for college-based transition programs, work and community-based participation. Information will also be provided about legislative and policy changes that affect postsecondary education for students with ID. All webinars will be held from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Visit ICI Webinars.


2. GettingHired.com offers free services designed to help people with disabilities prepare for the workplace and build their careers. They also offer social networking opportunities that help individuals connect with each other and career mentors and match individual qualifications to specific job requirements.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sinergia Jumps into Action After Hurricane Sandy

The recent tumultuous arrival of Superstorm Sandy did more than just cause destruction and disruption to the lives of thousands of people throughout the Tri-State area. The storm also provided Sinergia with an opportunity to witness the depth of commitment that our staff possesses. While the Residential administrative team, Deputy Executive Director Michael Mitchell, Director of Residential Services Rebecca Maitin, Lead Residential Manager Rolando Aquino, Residential Manager Johanna Echeverria and On-Site Manager David Bryant kept the lines of communication open and reviewed the situation almost on an hour by hour basis with the Executive Director, the true “Everyday Heroes” were the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and their team leaders, who rose to the occasion and took on extended shifts and responsibilities without hesitation. Many of these folks worked round the clock to ensure the safety and well-being of the people with disabilities that we serve in the residential department.

The DSPs came to work on the Saturday and Sunday before Sandy struck knowing full well that it might be nearly impossible to get home that night or the next day with the impending shutdown of all New York City mass transit services. These DSPs, some of whom live in Queens and Brooklyn, left their homes not knowing when they might be able to return or what they would be returning to. Despite that gnawing concern, they also understood that the fragile population that we serve needed their help. Upon arriving at their assignments, these staff members realized they were in for the long haul. We are proud to say that they all performed magnificently under such very difficult circumstances and they did not allow Sandy to stand in the way of delivering quality services. Sinergia would like to recognize and thank the following staff members for their courageous and selfless commitment to the people that we serve:
            On site Residential Manager David Bryant
            Team Leader Argenis P
            Team Leader Ralph Espinal
            Team Leader Gwen Baez
            Team Leader Dawn Dixon
            Team Leader Mellissa Baez
            Direct Support Professionals:
            Paul Mandeg                                  
            Korey St Hill
            Lovelie Pierre
            Delouris Snell
            Iluminada Hilario
           Fabienne Perides
           Marilyn Quinones
           Vanessa Green
           Barbara Johnson
           Frank Curbelo

We also want to express our gratitude to those DSPs who left their homes and found what could only be described as “imaginative” ways to get their sites and relieve their colleagues who had been on call in some cases for 36 hours.
 
A very similar sense of commitment could be seen at the Sinergia main office on Lexington Avenue in the days following Sandy’s arrival. While many not-for-profits and other businesses throughout the City of New York remained closed for the entire week following the storm, many of the Sinergia staff who work in the main office found a way to get in and we were open for business on the Wednesday following the storm.  Some drove, some car-pooled, some paid for cabs, some even walked blocks upon blocks, but they got in, and by noon on Wednesday the office was humming with activity.

The service interruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy were a great source of anxiety for many of the people with disabilities that we serve. However, many of these folks discovered that when they called our main office or stopped by, the MSCs, Case Managers, Coordinators, Fiscal and Administrative staff  were here and able to assist them with their issues. Likewise, the adults who attend the Day Habilitation program at the main office also arrived to find that many of their staff had found ways to get in from Brooklyn, Queens and other parts of the storm ravaged city.

We also need to recognize our housekeeping and maintenance staff who managed to find a way through the flooded streets and blocked avenues to come in and support the work being done at the main office, in the Day Habilitation program, the Residential program and on the administrative level.  Sinergia is very proud of the efforts of its entire staff and wants to be sure that they and their commitment to the people we serve is appreciated and recognized.                                                                           (Photo)

Monday, November 5, 2012

New York’s Autism Insurance Reform Law is Now in Effect

It’s time to celebrate!  It’s the month of November and New York’s autism insurance reform law is now in effect. 

What does this mean for you and your child suspected of having autism spectrum disorder?  It means that from November 1, 2012 forward, as state-regulated insurance plans file to renew, they will be required to cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

It is important to note that this law was enacted last year and required regulations to be promulgated regarding those who provide behavioral health treatment, including applied behavioral analysis. These regulations were to be implemented by the insurance superintendent in consultation with the commissioners of health and education.

Emergency regulations were released so that the law could go into effect November 1 as intended. These emergency regulations will then be followed by a notice of proposed rulemaking, providing everyone an opportunity to comment once the rule is published in the State Register.

In the meantime, if you need information about the law, please visit Autism Speak’s website  where you will find a one-page summary as well as a link to the actual language of the new law. They will post a link to the emergency regulations once they are available online. We will also keep you posted of any new developments.

_____________________________________________________

¡Es tiempo de celebrar! Es el mes de noviembre y la ley que reforma los seguros que cubren el autismo en el estado de Nueva York ya está en vigor.

¿Qué significa esto para usted si sospecha que su niño puede estar diagnosticado con el trastorno del espectro autista? Quiere decir que a partir del 1 de noviembre de 2012 en adelante, los planes de seguro regulados por el estado que desean renovar estarán obligados a cubrir la detección, el diagnóstico y el tratamiento de los trastornos del espectro autista.

Es importante señalar que esta ley fue promulgada el año pasado y requiere que los reglamentos necesarios sean promulgados en relación con aquellos que proveen tratamiento de salud mental, incluyendo el análisis aplicado del comportamiento. Estas normas se aplicaran por el superintendente de seguros, en consulta con los comisionados de la salud y la educación.

Reglamentos de emergencia fueron puestos en libertad para que la ley pueda entrar en vigor el 1 de noviembre como estaba previsto. Estas normas de emergencia serán seguidas por un aviso de reglamentación propuesta, ofreciendo a todos la oportunidad de comentar una vez que la norma se publica en el Registro del Estado.

Mientras tanto, si usted necesita más información acerca de la ley, por favor visite la página web de Autism Speaks donde encontrará un resumen de una página, así como un enlace con el texto real de la nueva ley. Ellos van a publicar un enlace a las normas de emergencia una vez que están disponibles en línea; también les mantendremos informados de cualquier novedad.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Special Anti-Bullying Art Exhibit

These are some of the pieces that the participants of the Day Habilitation program created for Sinergia's 2nd Annual Unity Day on Bullying Prevention, held October 10th. They are colorful, expressive and truly special. The artists each received a Certificate of Achievement from their teacher, artist and educational art consultant Ana Soto. You can see more of the day's activities on our Facebook album.










Monday, October 8, 2012

Sinergia's 2nd Annual Unity Day for Bullying Prevention

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an observance that was started by PACER, the National Parent Training and Information Center. Sinergia will mark this occasion by holding its 2nd annual Anti-Bullying event to show support for students who have been bullied. We will distribute orange t-shirts for children and hold special activities, including a parent forum, a presentation by the New York Police Department and a Anti-Bullying Poster exhibit.

The theme and purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the importance of bullying prevention. Bullying is a serious problem nationwide that takes a terrible toll on students and their families. The problem is particularly serious for students with disabilities. We hope you can join us.

Our Unity Day for Bullying Prevention will take place on Wednesday October 10th from 3 - 5 PM at 2082 Lexington Avenue, 4th Floor conference room. For more information click here or call 212.643.2840.           (photo)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kenny's Quilt

Kenny, Jake and Clara Berg are a family Sinergia has worked with to open a supervised, live-in residence for their son (we first introduced them to you in this April 2011 blog post). They attended the Art of Social Change workshop in Savannah, Georgia organized by Beth Mount, Tom Kohler, Connie and John O'Brien, Jack Pierpoint and Linda Kahn, among others who advocate very strongly for integrated communities.

Participants from many different states attended the opening of the story quilts made by Beth at the Jepson Center (Telfair Museum), and among them was a quilt she made for Kenny telling the story of his work at the farm and his new domicile. Many other activities such as art display, photographs and open farm market took place over the weekend, sharing with all of us the relationship between advocates and their proteges. 


Sinergia Hosts Forum For Multi-Cultural Agencies

Sinergia is very pleased to host a Forum For Multi-Cultural Agencies prepared and arranged by the New York Association of Emerging and Minority Providers.

The forum aims to highlight the essential and critical role that multicultural agencies have made and are making every day in the lives of the families and individuals with developmental disabilities that we serve.  The OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke will meet parents from member agencies who will make a personal presentation on "how culturally and linguistically competent agencies have enhanced their families lives and the individual with a developmental disability."

The forum will take place on Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 1:30-3 pm at Sinergia, Inc. located at 2082 Lexington Ave.  The Commissioner will hear the stories first hand from the families and individuals. For more information, please click here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Direct Support Professional Recognition Week


The week of October 20 – 15, 2012 was designated by the New York Staff Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (NYSOPWDD) as Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.  During this week agencies that provide services to people with disabilities took special time to honor those employees who work directly with these individuals.  The hours that these staff work are long and include weekends, evenings and holidays and the compensation is low, however, the responsibilities are wide-ranging and can make the difference to the successful integration of a vulnerable  population  into the life of a community.

As part of the week’s recognition Sinergia was delighted to acknowledge the work of our direct care staff and recognize the honorees at a breakfast on September 19, 2012 at our main offices.  Sinergia’s has some wonderful, dedicated direct care staff throughout several departments. The Residential, Day Habilitation and Community Habilitation programs had the difficult job of narrowing the selections down to just one employee from each department. The  honorees selected are: Gwen Baez, (13 years of service) Thainesse Caro, (4 years of service) from the Day Habilitation program; Oristela Birmudez (6 years of service) from the Community Habilitation program.  We profoundly extend our appreciation to the honorees and the entire direct care staff. We sincerely recognize the contributions they make on a daily basis to the quality of life of the persons they serve.

Photo: The Sinergia Executive staff, Michael Mitchell (Deputy Exec.), Myrta Cuadra-Lash, (Executive Director) and Dr. Bernice Moro (Associate Director) pose with Direct Support Professional of the Year honorees, Thainesse Caro (Day Habilitation) and Gwendolyn Baez (Residential).  Absent from the event was honoree Oristela Bermudez from the Community Habilitation program).  Once again, Sinergia thanks these fine people for their hard and dedication.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The NYC Department of Education’s Special Education Reform


The NYC Department of Education (DOE) has engaged a far-reaching special education reform effort. The stated goals of this Reform are to “improve access to more challenging academic curricula and to achieve better outcomes for students with disabilities.” This will be carried out by providing significantly more students with disabilities the opportunity to attend the schools they would attend if they did not have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). 

The Reform is intended to provide more students with disabilities access to their zoned schools and other schools of choice. Most NYC public schools will be expected to meet the needs of the majority of their students with IEPs. During the current school year, parents of students entering: kindergarten, middle school (6th grade), high school (9th grade) and “over-the-counter” students (those new to NYC’s public schools) with special education needs may be asked to consider different service and placement recommendations than in the past. The DOE is asking schools to reexamine students’ IEPs based on the availability of the program or service in the school building and the least restrictive environment. Your child’s school may ask you to reopen your child’s IEP even if you recently agreed to a new IEP at an annual review or this is your child’s first special education placement.

Unless your child has been accepted into a special program, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Nest or District 75, or requires bilingual services or a barrier-free site, you will not have the option of having your child attend another school that has the program or service on your child’s IEP. Other exceptions may apply to reasons pertaining to health and safety issues. Remember that parental rights in special education result from federal and state law. The Reform is a local policy matter and it does nothing to change your legal rights as a parent. Your child has the right to type of class and services on his/her IEP regardless of whether or not the school currently has them. The DOE is promoting the move of students with IEPs into the general education classroom (with the necessary supports and services.) However, there are questions whether general education teachers have received sufficient training in working with students with special needs.

If you are still having trouble resolving the matter, call 311 and ask to speak with the DOE’s Special Education Call Center. You may also try calling the DOE’s Hotline (718-935-2007) or visiting one of their locations for Special Education Family Office hours. In addition, the DOE has set up Special Education Family Office Hours which will run through September 27, 2012 and a hotline (311) or (718) 935-2007) for parents to help resolve concerns related to the reform.  For details on office hours, click here.

Your child has the right to receive the type of class and services on his/her IEP regardless of whether or not the school currently has them. Your child is still entitled to receive a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, according to the federal law, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (Photo)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sinergia's Anti-Bullying Unity Day 2012

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which was started by PACER, the National Parent Training and Information Center.

Sinergia will mark this occasion by holding a Unity Day, bringing people together to show support for students who have been bullied. We will wear orange, distribute orange t-shirts for children and hold special activities, including a Special Poster Exhibit.

When: October 10, 2012 from 3 PM- 5 PM
Where: 2082 Lexington Ave., 4th floor
RSVP: 212-643-2840

Poster Exhibit – Call for EntriesWe will be holding a Special Poster Exhibit with an anti- bullying theme. Children are invited to participate by submitting their artwork. All entries will be on view for the month of October. If you would like your child to participate, entries must be received by October 3 in person or mailed to:
Poster Contest
Sinergia, Inc.
2082 Lexington Ave. 4th floor
New York, New York 10035
RSVP: 212-643-2840

Judges will be Marta Moreno Vega, noted Director of the Caribbean Cultural Center and Ana Soto, artist.

Please come with your children to this anti bullying event featuring special activities and guest speakers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back to School Resources from the NYC Council

Below is helpful information for families preparing and planning ahead for the new school year, from the NYC Council.

Implementation of the Dignity for all Students Act
The Dignity Act, which went into effect on July 1, 2012, increases the requirements for schools in preventing bullying and creating harassment-free learning environments. (Click here for information on the law's requirements within our schools.)

Here are some things to keep in mind as your child returns to school this year:

• Schools should send home an age-appropriate version of the Dignity Act policy with all students.  This should be in plain language and should be distributed at the beginning of the year.
• Every school should have a Dignity Act coordinator, an individual who is currently called the Respect for All (RFA) liaison.  This individual must be thoroughly trained to respond to incidents of bullying and bias-based harassment that occur as a result of students' race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender and sex.
• School staff (non-professional staff) should be trained to raise their awareness and sensitivity to potential discrimination or harassment, as well as how to prevent and respond to a bullying incident.
• School staff who find out about harassment or bullying are required to act immediately to report and address bullying.  They should be trained in the proper procedures for doing so.
• School staff must be aware that the Dignity Act now encompasses staff-to-student bullying, and has the same reporting requirements as student to student bullying.
• Schools must answer all bullying incidents with specific responses intended to create a school environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.

If you have any questions about whether or not your child's school is abiding by these regulations, you can contact the DOE at RespectForAll@schools.nyc.gov.  You can also contact Carlos Menchaca or Nick Rolf in the Council's Community Outreach Unit at cmenchaca@council.nyc.gov and Nrolf@council.nyc.gov, respectively.

New Special Education Services for Students and Families

The following services are being offered to help families get their questions answered in a timely manner.

Beginning August 1, 2012, families who need assistance with their children's placements or have any questions regarding the reforms can do any of the following:

1. Call a dedicated hotline for special education support at (718) 935-2007;
2. Call 311 and ask for services for parents;
3. Attend family office hours in nine sites across the five boroughs with day, evening, and weekend hours beginning July 31, 2012.  During office hours, a special education specialist will be available to help resolve families' questions about the special education reform initiative and work to reach solutions to support their child(ren).  The complete schedule of dates, times and locations is available on the DOE's website at http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/SpecialEducation/when-is-the-next/2012parent-information-session.htm.

Free Citywide Legal Services for Immigrants & their Families

Last week the NYC Council announced a new partnership with CUNY Citizenship Now! to begin providing free high-quality and confidential legal immigration services to New Yorkers and their families in the wake of President Obama's historic decision to defer deportation action for young immigrants.  These services, which begin October 1, 2012, will be offered at 30 different locations on a weekly or monthly basis over the next year.

Through this Council-funded program, qualified attorneys and paralegals will offer one-on-one consultations and assist qualified immigrants with applying for citizenship.  New Yorkers will have access to a variety of legal services, including green card applications, deferred action, citizenship interview coaching and more.

Services will be offered weekly at seven Council members' offices in Queens, five in Brooklyn, four in the Bronx, three in Manhattan and one in Staten Island, and offered monthly at three offices in Queens, four in Brooklyn, two in the Bronx, one in Manhattan, one in Staten Island.  Locations were selected by analyzing Citizenship Now! data from years past.

You can find the full list of participating Council Member offices here.

Changes Made to School Discipline Code

Missing even a few days of school, especially during those critical early years (kindergarten through 3rd), can have negative consequences throughout a student's academic career.

After several public hearings and a meeting with the Speaker's office, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) recently updated their discipline code, which includes a number of important changes that the City Council and advocates called for. 

These changes include:

• Previously, a Level 3 Infraction (defined as disruptive behavior) could result in a "superintendent's suspension" (an out of school suspension lasting 6-10 days).  This is no longer an option for students in grades K-3.  The maximum penalty for the same infraction would result in a "principal's suspension" (less than 5 days).

• The DOE has also changed language in the code to encourage teachers to start with guidance-based intervention rather than immediate discipline.  For example, instead of suspending a student, teachers will be encouraged to hold a conference with the child, their parents, and a social worker to explain why the student's actions were wrong and to collaboratively develop a plan to help that student improve their behavior in the future.

You can find the DOE's revised discipline code, effective September 2012, here.

You can read more about these important changes in the news by clicking on the links below:

http://gothamschools.org/2012/08/28/disciplinary-code-revisions-could-reduce-student-suspensions/
http://www.schoolbook.org/2012/08/28/softer-suspension-rules-for-younger-students/

Get Your Library Card!

There are over 200 libraries in neighborhoods around the five boroughs that offer millions of books, resources, and internet access free of charge, and the back-to-school season is a perfect time to become a library card holder.

By becoming regular visitors to the library, young people can further their academic and work skills and become lifetime learners.

Information about applying for a library card is available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dycd/downloads/pdf/Get_a_Library_Card_Guide.pdf.

Please help spread the word and encourage young people to apply!

New GED Test for 2014

Beginning January 1, 2014, there will be a new GED test in New York State.  As a result, any scores on the sections passed by test takers prior to that date will no longer count.  Therefore, we encourage anyone who's considering taking the GED again to do so by the end of 2013.

There are a number of programs around the City that can help students and adult learners prepare for and pass the GED.  For example, New York City has a network of Literacy Zones with counselors who can assist New Yorkers with finding a GED preparation program that best serves their needs.  Please call or visit one of the organizations below for more information:

Brooklyn

Turning Point
5220 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220
718-360-8180/8159

The Bronx

Highbridge Community Life Center
979 Ogden Avenue, Bronx, NY 10452
646-393-9533 X117

Manhattan

CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College
199 Chambers Street, S-736, NY, NY 10004
212-346-8890

Literacy Partners, Inc.
PUSH Family Welcome Center
127 West 127th St, NY, NY 10027
646-351-0258

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp.
76 Wadsworth Avenue, NY, NY 10033
212-822-8323

University Settlement Society of New York Inc.
184 Eldridge Street, NY, NY 10002
212-533-6306

Queens

CUNY York College
94-43 160th Street, Jamaica, NY 11451
718-262-3861

Ravenswood Family Learning Center
35-32 21st Street, Long Island City, NY 11101
718-752--3718

Peninsula Adult Learning Center
92-25 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Beach, NY 11693
718-945-7058

Staten Island

Jewish Community Center of Staten Island
1859 Victory Blvd., Staten Island, NY 10314
718-508-3882

YouCanToo! is another great resource.  Their website features a GED prep program locator, online tools, resources and over 50 videos of adult learners in New York City.  For more information, log on to www.nyc.gov/youcantoonyc.

You can also call 311 to find an adult education program in your community.

Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK)

Early childhood education has benefits across a child's lifetime, including raising academic achievement and increasing the chances that a child will successfully graduate from high school.

As in previous years, the NYC Council is partnering with the NYC Department of Education (DOE), the NYC Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and child care advocates across the five boroughs to help enroll children in FREE universal pre-kindergarten (UPK).  These programs are available to all children who turn four year old in 2012 and regardless of their immigration status.

There are a few ways that families can get information about the nearest UPK program with available seats:

1. Call: 311
2. Visit: www.nyc.gov
3. Text: prek to 877877

Every student deserves a great education and that every family should have the information that they need to make sure that their children are in a positive, supportive, and healthy learning environment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Help Make OPWDD Better - Survey

The Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) wants your opinion! They are currently reviewing their system and need your feedback on any changes that you believe are necessary to better meet their mission of enriching the lives of people with developmental disabilities through our four primary goals: home, health, meaningful relationships and activities in the community.

Please take a moment to fill out this survey.

Please share this information with friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Anyone without internet access can call 518-474-3625.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Appeal for Sinergia's Nurses

Dear Friends and Families of Sinergia:

Sinergia has served people with disabilities and their families for 36 years. Our initial educational advocacy services for children with disabilities evolved through the years into multi services that include residential and nursing services for persons with cognitive disabilities. We provide multiple services yearly to over 2000 underserved persons with disabilities and their families who come from some of the most distressed communities in New York City.

Over two years ago Sinergia moved to its present space located at the cross roads of East and Central Harlem. The challenging and complex needs of children and adults with disabilities have placed a great demand on our services at a time of deep fiscal cuts because of the difficult economic conditions. Nowhere has this been most evident than in the provision of our nursing services.

Our nurses provide comprehensive nursing care and coordination of medical services to individuals with intellectual and multiple disabilities, as well as provide staff training in medication administration, CPR, and First Aid to our staff.  We are expanding our nursing services to accommodate the increasing demand for services. The new Nursing Center will be on the 2nd floor of our existing main site which is located on the 3rd and 4th floor of 2082 Lexington Avenue. Therefore we are making this special appeal to you to help us equip our nursing center with furniture, shelving and equipment so that our nurses can enhance the provision of excellent, quality services to people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, the separate exam room will afford privacy and dignity to the people we serve.

Sinergia’s nurses are unsung heroes who are deeply committed to the individuals with disabilities whom they serve. They care for individuals who reside in our certified homes, some with complex medical issues and terminal illness, in addition to their intellectual disabilities. They oversee the coordination of medical care with numerous health providers for participants in our residential and Day Habilitation Programs, as well as develop an assessment of children in our Homeless shelter and those who attend our respite programs. Most recently they have joined the team that serves young mothers with cognitive disabilities and make homes visits to oversee nursing care for infants and babies in our Healthy Families project. Our heroes truly deserve a new nursing center.

This year we did not hold a special gala or event, so that all donations through this special appeal will be used exclusively to equip and furnish our nursing center.  We hope you will be generous and contribute to the best of your ability.  Any and all donations will be appreciated. 

Donors over $5,000 will have a plaque with their names prominently displayed in the Nursing Center. Sponsors/Donors contributing over $10,000 will have the option of naming the Nursing Center in their honor. Please send donations to:
Sinergia, Inc. 2082 Lexington Ave., 4th floor
New York, NY 10035

Please call or email me at cuadralash@sinergiany.org if you wish further information. Sinergia’s Board of Directors and Executive Director thank you for your interest and consideration of this appeal. Attached you will find a list of the items that your donations may purchase.

Sincerely,

Myrta Cuadra-Lash
Executive Director

Len Torres, Ed.D.
President, Board of Directors

CPR Re-certifications


Sinergia staff in action at the CPR Re-certifications. Re-certification is a mandatory requirement for all the staff that are directly involved in providing health care for all the consumers we serve. Sinergia sponsors the events and invites a member of the American Heart Association to teach the class. "Cardio Pulmonary
Resuscitation (CPR) saves lives and this is why all of the staff are trained to continue to provide efficient care for all of our consumers, not only in the Residential settings, but also in the different programs where we provide Direct Care Staff such as UpLiving, DayHab, Respite and Family Care," explains Asuncion Muyalde, Head Nurse at Sinergia.

Sinergia Appoints New Associate Director, and Other Staff News


Sinergia is pleased to announce that on August 20th Dr. Bernice Moro will assume the position of Assoc. Director of Sinergia. Dr. Moro is a committed educational administrator with extensive experience in the field of education for students with special needs. She worked for the NYC Department of Education for 32 years and at New York University, Hunter College and Touro College. She is an educator with a specialty in English Language learners and special education. She has held numerous positions as a Deputy Superintendent of Bronx School District 7, Deputy in the Impartial Hearing Office, Deputy Superintendent for Administration and Student Support, District and High school Placement Officer, among others. We are looking forward to Dr. Moro’s arrival, the knowledge she brings and the many contributions she will make to future programming at Sinergia.

Any Nunez has been a beloved and well respected member of Sinergia’s Fiscal Department for over ten years. She has now taken over the reins as the controller of Sinergia and those of us who value her competency, work ethic, loyalty and dedication are thrilled by this appointment. We welcome Raquel Martinez back to Sinergia who will ably assist her along with Felicia Gomez in fiscal operations. Our best wishes for success to Edwin Barreto our former controller.

Our Nursing team will move to expanded brand new quarters on the second floor sometime in September.  The nurses at Sinergia  are our unsung heroes and we hope you will respond to our special appeal to provide them with a new Nursing Center.

Sinergia's MPC Receives Award from OSEP

The Metropolitan Parent Center received a special award at the annual Office of Special Education (OSEP) Leadership conference that was held during July 30-August 1st in Washington, D.C. The award was for participating in the Voluntary Standards of Excellence for Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIC) and Community Parent and Resource Centers (CPRC.)  The six recipients of this award provided information on the standards in the areas of provision of services to families and management issues for non-profit organizations. In addition, each award recipient discussed how their Centers went about developing their standards and shared ideas and suggestions with the audience that can be used to help other Centers develop their own standards of excellence. The MPC was represented by its Co-Director, Cassandra Archie (above, center), who accepted the award and discussed the process the MPC used to develop their standards of excellence. The conference held an interactive discussion and also featured a question and answer session that focused on effective strategies that Centers can use to improve their work with children with disabilities and their families. Below: Sinergia Director Myrta Cuadra Lash (left) holds the award with Godfrey Rivera, Co-Director of the MPC.

Sinergia Boardmember Joins EICC

On April 18th Paola Jordan, a board member of Sinergia and the parent of twins, received official notification from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office that she had been appointed as member of the Statewide Early Intervention Coordinating Council (EICC), which is a committee of 27 members who represent families, providers and the New York State Department of Health. This committee assists the Department of Health in administering the Early Intervention program and makes recommendations to the Department on appropriate services for children with disabilities between the ages of 0 to 3 years and their families.

“As a representative of the families I am honored and proud to be in this group since my twins have benefited greatly from this program. During the nearly three and half years that my children received therapy services, I learned that the role of parents is crucial and this helps to make a difference in the results,” explains Paola. She is available to all families currently obtaining services from this program to receive and transmit messages to the EICC.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gov. Cuomo's Justice Center Bill Passes Both Houses

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Justice Center Bill passed in both the Senate and Assembly. This legislation establishes the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting people with special needs and disabilities through the creation of a new Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. The initiative will transform how New York State protects over one million New Yorkers in State operated, certified or licensed facilities and programs.

In response to the passage of the bill, Governor Cuomo issued the following statement:
“For too many years, we have heard story after story of abuse and mistreatment in facilities that are supposed to care for those with special needs and disabilities. With the legislation passed today, New York is standing up to say enough is enough. The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs will ensure that the more than one million New Yorkers with disabilities and special needs receive the proper treatment that they deserve. Protecting the civil rights of vulnerable individuals was one of my top priorities this legislative session, and with this new law, New York State has raised the bar to put in place the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting people with special needs. I thank the thousands of New Yorkers, including my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly, who joined in the fight to take action and bring justice to the system. Without their help, the passage of this important legislation would not have been possible.”

For more information about the Justice Center, please visit the Governor's Justice Center Website:
http://www.governor.ny.gov/Justice4SpecialNeeds/home

Monday, June 11, 2012

NY State to Propose a State Seal Of Biliteracy for High School Graduates


Following on the heels of the California law that was signed on October 8, 2011 by Governor Jerry Brown that  created the “State Seal of Biliteracy” which honors high school seniors proficient in English and one or more languages, New York State Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo introduced legislation in May 2012 to create a similar certification for New York State high school graduates. This bill would establish the State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. The bill cites many reasons for why this certification should be pursued, including that biliteracy contributes to a pupil’s cognitive development and to our national economy and security. The demand for individuals to be fluent in more than one language is increasing throughout the US, promoting linguistic proficiency and cultural literacy.

The bill proposed by Carmen Arroyo is designed to encourage pupils to study languages other than English, provide employers with a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills, offer universities a way to recognize and give academic credit to applicants seeking admission and  to prepare pupils for the new challenges of 21st century life.

Sinergia enthusiastically supports the biliteracy bill and calls upon parents to support this iniaitive by contacting the New York State Legislature. Ms. Arroyo’s New York City Office is located at 384 East 149 Street, Suite 30, Bronx, NY 10455. Her telephone number is 718-292-2901. You can also contact your assemblyperson by visiting the website http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ and entering your zip code.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Team Approach to Services for Parents with Intellectual Disabilities

Sinergia’s “We Are Parents Too” and “Healthy Families” programs use a trans-disciplinary team approach to enhance the service spectrum for parents that are intellectually disabled. This approach capitalizes on the myriad of talents and skills of specific staff members from our organization. It results in powerful teamwork that provides creative solutions to very challenging circumstances that families can find themselves in. Staff expertise is also utilized in the training and education component of both programs. For example, recently the Nursing Department offered a workshop on Personal Hygiene. During this presentation the Nurse offered strategies on how parents can enhance their personal appearance as well as use and teach good hygiene to their children at home. The presentation was interactive and the participants were able to take part in the dialogue and share their own views about personal hygiene. The parents were very complimentary of the presentation. The follow-up survey results indicated that the participants learned new ways to approach this subject.

Another example is the collaboration with the Dental Hygiene Program at Hostos Community College of the City University. This presentation, given by the senior students under the supervision of a faculty member, dealt with the issues of good dental care and proper tooth brushing techniques. The session encouraged routine visits to the dentist by their children and the importance of general cleaning. The parents can now visit the Hostos Community College Clinic and receive free services at the dental clinic for themselves and their children.

The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, is now one of our collaborating partners. They have provided a workshop entitled, “Eating Disorders: Anorexia and Bulimia” and will present another workshop in July. They will also provide us with interns from their graduate program that will conduct focus groups and needs assessments.

One unique service that Sinergia provides is supervised visits requested by the courts and/or ACS. They are held onsite at our facility and directed by an instructor that teaches about the parent-to-child interaction between parents and their babies and/or young children. This is an important step in the bonding and connection of parents and children which is significant to the reunification goal of families who have been separated by the child custody system.

Our programs evolve. They are a work in progress and require the contribution of every member of the team.

Our Deepest Condolences

We are saddened to announce that Jack Haines, husband of Gayle Haines, a long time Sinergia board member, passed away on April 22nd. Throughout the years, Jack was a wonderful host to Sinergia staff and board members at  his home in Captree Island. He participated in many special events and visited Sinergia programs numerous times. Jack was a painter, writer and great supporter of Sinergia’s mission.
Sinergia Executive Director Myrta Cuadra-Lash recently recalled her fond memories of him. "I have known  Jack and Gayle for at least three decades. They were former neighbors at Captree Island and made many visits to my home in Puerto Rico, where they fell in love with the Island. Jack and Dick (Sinergia founder) had so many common interests including their fondness for Captree Island, their intense curiosity for all things and their love of learning. Gayle was a teacher of some of the Lash children when they were in elementary school in West Islip. Our lives coincided in so many ways." The Sinergia family sends our deepest condolences to Gayle. A memorial service will be held in June. May he rest in peace.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sinergia's Natasha Harris Honored for Excellence

On May 7, the Manhattan Developmental Disabilities Council sponsored the 10th Annual Manhattan Service Coordination Forum at Metro DDSO. During this event, the Forum acknowledged twelve Medicaid Service Coordinators from the Manhattan area for their hard work and dedication to consumers and their families. This year, Sinergia, Inc. was pleased to nominate Ms. Natasha Harris to receive such an honor. Ms. Natasha Harris has been a Medicaid Service Coordinator with our agency for four years. During these years, she demonstrated strong advocacy qualities and great dedication in providing the best quality of services to her consumers. Ms. Harris does not tolerate injustices against her consumers and works extremely hard to get entitlements for her consumers. Her consumers and families celebrate her enthusiasm and code of ethics.  It was a great honor for Sinergia to present this recognition to Ms. Harris.

MSC News/Developments
  • Medicaid Service Coordination (MSC) completed online training for CHOICES (the electronic individual case records management system).
  • Excellent Home Care will host a presentation for all our MSC and Family Support staff on June 13, 2012.
  • The MSC department, in collaboration with The Metropolitan Parent Center, is launching the MSC Core Pilot Training on July 18, 2012. In this training MPC, MSC and Family support staff will participate in the training and provide constructive feedback to the trainers. This exercise will help trainers to prepare and improve their training methods before they provide this service to external providers.

Sinergia's 2012 Dinner Dance - a Night To Remember


On April 20, 2012, the Day Habilitation program hosted the annual Sinergia Dinner Dance at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center on West 65th Street. Individuals from our Day Habilitation, UpLiving, Residential, Family Care, and “We Are Parents, Too” programs all attended the soiree. Everyone came out in their finest apparel ready for a delicious catered dinner and danced all night long to many favorite tunes, spun by a top-notch deejay. This year’s festivities were also highlighted by a fashion show performed by the Day Hab participants and a photo booth manned by Sinergia’s Deputy Executive Director, Michael Mitchell. It was truly a night for everyone to feel like stars, and one we will all be talking about for the rest of the year. Congratulations to the Day Hab staff as well as the volunteers from other departments who helped us create the best Dinner Dance yet! View more photos on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day Hab Celebrates Women’s Suffrage

In March, the Day Hab women’s group recognized Women’s History Month and learned about a lot of influential women through the ages.  Following right after February’s Black History Month, this time of year it is always good to remember that women and people of color did not always have the right to vote and struggled to be recognized as eligible citizens.  To practice this right, we made sure that everyone in the program (men and women!) had the opportunity to register to vote.  We completed the paper forms and mailed them in, but there are several ways to register.  See http://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingRegister.html to find out how to get registered today.

To celebrate Women’s History, print out these coloring pages (great for both adults and children) that we created in Day Hab:

Portrait of Etta James

Votes For Women Poster
 We Can Do It Poster

Day Hab Celebrates Volunteers

On Friday, March 23, the Day Habilitation program had a ceremony to recognize the participants who have been working hard all year at their volunteer jobs in the community.  This has been an exciting year for our volunteers, as we have three new volunteer sites: the Glass Garden at NYU’s Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine, the 125th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, and the soup kitchen at St. Paul and Andrews Church.  These new opportunities have been great learning experiences for our groups, who also continue to volunteer at Encore City Meals on Wheels twice a week.  Jeanie Cameron, Encore’s Volunteer Coordinator, came and shared some words at the ceremony and recognized our program for its long-standing dedication to volunteering.  Each of our volunteers received an award for their hard work and a few of them shared their inspirations with the audience.  See our photo album on Facebook. Congratulations to the following volunteers:

Corey A.
Carlos B.
Trish B.
Terri B.
Vanessa D.
James F.
Kenneth F.
Jose F.
Jose H.
Ivan L.
Joseph N.
Lee P.
Armando P.
Emmanuel S.
Tyrone T.
Barbara V.
William V.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spotlight on Sinergia's Autism Initiative

April is National Autism Awareness Month but for Sinergia's Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative it's a year round process. The program began in 2008 with funding from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Its aim is to provide outreach to underserved families of children with autism, particularly Latino parents who are not proficient in English. The project provides outreach, information dissemination, workshops and support groups.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders affect four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. On March 29, 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the prevalence of children in the United States with autism has increased. The newly-released statistics suggest one in 88 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, up from one in 110 in 2009. The CDC has called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

Zachary Warren, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University, stresses the need for effective, early identification and treatment of autism. “The new CDC data is the best evidence we have to date that autism is a very common disorder. While recent estimates have varied, we have always known the individual, familial, educational and societal costs that go along with autism are tremendous,” Warren said. “We are now seeing autism in more than 1 percent of the population, which highlights how challenging it will be for systems of care to meet service needs.”

For more information on Sinergia's Autism Initiative contact Gina Pena-Campodonico at 212-643-2840 ext. 305. 

Additional reading:
USA Today: As Autism becomes more common, doctors say check early
Fox: Autism Rates Higher Among Latino Children, CDC Finds
CNN: Searching for the why behind rising autism rate
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Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Improvements in Accessibility for the Disabled

“People with disabilities should have the opportunity to participate in American society as fully and equally as those without disabilities.”   --Thomas E. Perez, Assistant, Att Gen for the Civil Rights Division

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design went into effect on March 15, 2012, as announced  by the Justice Department. These standards were adopted as part of the revised regulations for DA Title II and Title III of the ADA of 1990 and will make buildings and facilities accessible to more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. 

Title II protects people with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs and activities provided by state and local government entities. Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreational facilities and doctors’ offices).

The department encourages businesses and governments around the country to help break down barriers for people with disabilities so that every individual has access to equal opportunity and equal justice.

The 2010 Standards will set new requirements for fixed or built-in elements in facilities such as detention facilities and courtrooms, amusement rides, boating facilities, golf and miniature golf facilities, swimming pools and play areas. These rules also clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years, including reach ranges, toilet room dimensions and accessible routes. The 2010 Standards provide clarified requirements for dispersal and lines of sight for accessible seating and companion seating in assembly areas such as stadiums. The 2010 Standards also address dispersion of accessible hotel rooms among the different classes of rooms provided, as well as the overlap between wheelchair accessible rooms and rooms with communication features.

The standards can be found here. If you are interested in finding out more about the ADA or the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, you can call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (Voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY), or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sinergia's Autism Initiative Events Calendar February thru June

The following events have been scheduled:

February 14, Tuesday:  *Desayuno / Encuentro
February 21, Tuesday: Help me Get Through the Day, giving strategies and practices during those very difficult moments. 
March 15, Thursday:  Nest and Horizon Programs for children with autism with Dorothy Siegel, program co-founder.
March 27, Tuesday:  *Desayuno / Encuentro
April 5, Thursday:  Sensory Integration and Positive Outlook Practices for children with autism and other disabilities, with Margarita Gendelman.
April 24, Tuesday:  Play Skills for Socialilization, Social Skill Groups, Strategies - POSTPONED
May 18, Friday:  Photography and Art workshop for children with autism with Michelle Lopez, Queens Library and Museum.
May 29, Tuesday:  *Desayuno / Encuentro
June 2012 :  Surprise pending confirmation.

*Desayuno/Encuentros are in Spanish

For more updates visit our Upcoming Events Calendar.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Free Resources: Parental Control Software

On Wednesday January 18, ten parents who attend the Metropolitan Parent Center’s (MPC) support group participated in a workshop about how to use the Internet. The third floor of Sinergia has a library available for parents along with a computer area adjacent to the library that has a number of computers available to parents, so we were able to give them direct, hands-on instruction. The workshop was conducted in Spanish and covered everything about identifying the components of a computer: the tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and what their functions are. This was done because the majority of the parents have little or no computer literacy skills so it was important that they knew some basics on how computers work. In addition, most of the parents do not have computers at home. The parents were also offered some basic information about the Internet, including how to log on and how to make inquiries using the Google search engine. Because they are all parents of children with disabilities, we practiced how to find information about their children’s disabilities (i.e., autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy.) They were shown that they could write questions in Spanish and would be given responses in Spanish. The MPC promotes the fact that in order for parents to be effective advocates, they need to learn how the disability affects their children’s ability to learn in the classroom.

Parents also received information about parental controls that protect children from being able to access inappropriate or dangerous Internet web sites. While the parents may lack computer and Internet skills, their children are very knowledgeable on that subject so some time was dedicated to showing the class how to check on the websites children have visited via the “history tab” in the Firefox, a popular web browser available to Internet users. A list of free downloadable parental control software was provided to parents, and some links are provided below. Overall, the parents enjoyed this workshop very much and expressed great interest in future opportunities to learn about, and be able to use the Internet as a tool to further their understanding about disabilities.

Free Parental Control Software

1.    K9 Web Protection - K-9 blocks websites in more than 70 categories, including pornography, gambling, drugs, violence/hate/racism, malware/spyware, phishing
2.    Parental Control Bar - Free software that helps concerned parents prevent their children from accessing adult-oriented web sites.
3.    Action Alert - Creates a kid-safe PC with filtering and website blocking and permits parents to review activity to determine whether anything suspicious occurs.
4.    KidsWatch - Allows parents to set computer usage time limits by child and blocks access to dangerous and inappropriate websites. It alerts parents immediately when a child steps outside the boundaries of safe surfing. KidsWatch™ will automatically send you e-mail alerts when your child enters or receives a suspect phrase or keyword from any chat conversation.

Free Parental Control Software in Spanish (Controles Para Padres en español)
1.    Naomi - Un programa para bloquear páginas web inadecuadas, dirigido a menores de edad que están expuestos en la red, con contenidos como por ejemplo pornografía, etc. Cada vez que se intente acceder en forma voluntaria o accidental a una página inadecuada el navegador se cerrará rápidamente.
2.    Time Sheriff - Permite administrar las horas que pasan sus hijos en la computadora. Time Sheriff puede limitar el tiempo de sesión de usuarios, prevenir la ejecución de juegos, navegadores y programas de mensajería instantánea.
3.    PC Lock Station - Un programa que permite monitorizar y limitar las actividades de un usuario frente a la PC. Permite establecer límites a la navegación por sitios inapropiados, definir horarios o tiempos máximos de uso.
4.    Amigo Control Parental - Este programa graba lo que se ve en la pantalla en todo momento para que después un padre pueda comprobar qué ha estado haciendo su hijo en la computadora. Es más, puede leer lo que ha escrito y lo que su hijo ha leído.

MPC holds workshop on Behavior Management Techniques for students with ADHD

Despite the cold weather, on January 20, more than twenty-five parents attended our workshop on Behavior Management.  Miriam Cusicanqui, a supervising social worker at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital shared behavior strategies with parents.  The strategies demonstrated were based on years of research in behavior development and they included:
  • Parent–child relationship, restoring and nurturing that relationship with positive feelings and building self-esteem.
  • Increasing desirable behaviors through praise, acknowledgement and incentives, including the use of behavioral charts.
  • Managing non-compliance, including the use of time-outs or other types of consequences. 
Parents should consider finding a therapist to help them practice these strategies consistently and to get through the often difficult challenges involved in carrying them out. The NYU Child Study Center has an excellent database to help you find a doctor. These strategies should also be used in school and if necessary implemented in a child’s behavior intervention plan. For more behavior strategies click here.

 The MPC can help with implementing these strategies in your child’s school by contacting our intake coordinator at (212) 643-2840 ext. 336. 

Are We Over-relying on Medication To Treat Behavioral Problems?

The over-reliance of medication to treat behavioral problems is becoming a rampant problem for individuals with disabilities. Recently the NY Times focused on the problem in state run group homes in its article “In Treating Disabled, Potent Drugs and Few Rules.”  The psychologist interviewed felt that medication does not address the underlying problem and that the behaviors could best be addressed by therapy. Lizabeth Pardo, an attorney in the Metropolitan Parent Center (MPC), sees this pattern in our schools. Many of her clients with ADHD are on medication but are not getting any type of behavior therapy privately or getting sufficient support through a behavior intervention plan at school. The workshop we presented is one way Sinergia is educating parents about behavior therapy to ensure their children are getting the proper care.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Celebrating MLK Day at Sinergia

"On January 17th, the Day Hab program had a celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Together, we talked about the work of Dr. King and we each learned something we didn’t know about him, such as his birthplace (Atlanta) or primary occupation (a preacher). We had been preparing for the celebration during the previous week and everyone participated by sharing poems or other thoughts on their dreams for the future and peace and equality. It was the perfect opportunity to refer to the conflict resolution training that we did during the Bullying Prevention Week in October. We reviewed tips on avoiding conflict and how to peacefully diffuse a potentially violent situation.  The civil rights movement’s use of peaceful demonstrations (speeches, marches, boycotts, etc.) was a great example of how people can make their voices heard without using violence.

Day Hab Artists (above, l. to r.) Vanessa, Mildred and Ivan worked as a team on a portrait of Dr. King.
They spoke about how important King’s work as a leader was, as bringing people together is the best way to make things happen. They demonstrated this point by talking about how they had collaborated to accomplish the drawing, which was too large for any of them to have done alone. We also enjoyed singing some songs, including “We Shall Overcome,” led by Mabel J. who proudly sings in her church choir on the weekends."

For more pictures on art projects that the DayHab artists have been creating visit our Facebook page.

--Erin McSorley, DayHab Art Specialist

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sinergia hosts Meeting for Emerging & Multicultural Providers

Pictured above: three officials from OPWDD: Tom Holland, 4th from left, Jonathan Pease, 5th from left and Alan Eskenazi, 7th from left, plus Yvette Watts E. D. Assoc., center, and the Board members of NYAEMP.

Sinergia hosted a membership meeting of the New York Association of Emerging & Multicultural Providers on January 18, 2011 in which  Yvette Watts,  Executive Director of the Association welcomed the members and introduced the guests presenters from the NY Office  for Persons With Developmental Disabilities.  Allan Eskenazi, Deputy Commissioner of Department of Quality Improvement (DQI), Tom Holland, Regional Director and Jonathan Pease, Area Director presented on the changes within DQI, the Early Alert System for agencies,  Fire Safety and the three areas of focus as recommended by the expert panel that reviewed the Wells Fire; building safety and construction , functional level of consumers and staffing and training. Also discussed were MSC and vendor protocols which will include incident management, personal allowance reviews and physical plant reviews.

Power Point  presentations , agency overviews and thoughts and concerns around the 1115 waiver  were also made by key staff from member agencies and the responses by NYAEMP to the Request for Information issued by OPWDD were disseminated . Overall, the speakers gave a strong message to the membership on  the importance of multicultural agencies to form a collective presence in the face of the drastic changes in the system and advised the organizations to band together, maintain quality standards and keep connected to their communities in order to survive these changes.

Farewell to Manny Ortiz

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Manuel (Manny) Ortiz.  He was a former President of the Sinergia Board of Directors in our early years and  very committed to our  mission of enhancing the well being of individuals with disabilities and families, particularly special populations that traditionally experienced difficulties in accessing services. He was a longtime community organizer and activist for social justice. Richard Lash, Sinergia's founder, and I were very fortunate to count Manny as a friend and supporter of Sinergia and the people we serve.

Also the affordable housing and community development field has lost a great advocate and leader.  Manny was a long time Executive Director of the Carroll Gardens Development Corp. and for many years a board member of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of NYS. He passed away in Puerto Rico. Our condolences to his friends, family, and wife Isaura.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Workshop: Financial Assistance and Rental Subsidies // Taller: Asistencia Financiera Para Inquilinos

Monday, January 23rd, 10am-12pm
EMERGENCY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND RENTAL SUBSIDIES
a presentation by
The Human Resources Administration Department (HRA) of Social Services of New York City
Are you falling behind with your rent payments? Are you facing a non-payment eviction? Want to know how you can obtain assistance with your rent?

Come and learn how you can apply for financial assistance to pay rent arrears. Learn who is eligible, the documentation required, charitable organizations, rental subsidy (FEPS) and other services offered by HRA
Presented by: Karina Cuevas, Manhattan Borough Coordinator, NYC Human Resources Administration

Place: Sinergia Inc., 2082 Lexington Avenue between 125th and 126th 4th Floor New York, NY
Directions: Take the 4, 5, or 6 train to the 125th station. Bus: X80, M35, M60, M100, M101, & Bx15 to 125th St.
Date: Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Contact: Yesenia Estrella or Maria Pabón, Housing Advocates
(212) 643-2840 ext. 249 & 350
Email: yestrella@sinergiany.org
Spanish Simultaneous Translation is available but you must call to request it.

*****************************

Lunes, 23 de enero, de 10:00am – 12:00pm
Sinergia cordialmente les invita a un taller sobre:
ASISTENCIA FINANCIERA DE EMERGENCIA Y SUBSIDIOS DE RENTA
presentado por
La Administración de Recursos Humanos (HRA), Departamento de Servicios Sociales de la Cuidad de Nueva York

¿Está atrasado(a) con los pagos de su renta?¿Está siendo desalojado(a) por falta de pago? ¿Quiere saber como obtener ayuda con su renta?

Venga y aprenda cómo aplicar para asistencia financiera para pagar sus rentas atrasadas. Aprenda quienes son elegibles, que documentos se requieren, organizaciones de caridad, subsidio de renta (FEPS) y otros servicios ofrecidos por HRA.
Presentado por: Karina Cuevas, Coordinadora del Condado de Manhattan de la Administración de Recursos Humanos de la Cuidad de Nueva York
Lugar: Sinergia Inc., 2082 Avenida Lexington entre las calles 125 y 126, 4to Piso, New York, NY
Dirección: Tome los trenes 4, 5, o 6 hasta la 125.
Buses: X80, M35, M60, M100, M101, & Bx15 hasta la calle 125.

Fecha: Lunes, 23 de enero, 2012
Hora: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Contactos: Yesenia Estrella y Maria Pabón, Defensoras de Viviendas
(212) 643-2840; correo electrónico: yestrella@sinergiany.org
Traducción al Español estará disponible pero debe llamar para pedirla.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sinergia’s Healthy Families Collaborative: A Team Approach to Service Delivery

“IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD”

Sinergia’s Healthy Families Collaborative has been moving towards a comprehensive team approach to assist parents with developmental disabilities, which involves bringing together many experts from a wide variety of areas. There is the Intake specialist, nurses, Family Support staff, Medicaid Service Coordination, home visitation by special educator and infant teacher, Program Coordinator and administrative staff. Parents with developmental disabilities need much support if they are to become the parents they hope to be and secure the myriad of services that will help them reach their goals. In this approach the nurses make an assessment of the medical needs, the educator and family support staff make home visits, and the entire team works in a person-centered manner to find individual solutions and services to help the consumer to become a more effective, nurturing parent as well as to meet their own individual needs. It really does take a village in the form of a very committed team to help parents with developmental disabilities to develop a circle of support and find the services they need.

Case in point is that of a 15 year old female with developmental disabilities and her infant. They reside with her mother, who found herself as their sole support system. As a result of the pregnancy, she dropped out of a special education high school. After various meetings and home visits, team members were able to convince her that it was important for her to return to the last school placement although she wished to attend a “regular” school.  Today is her first day of school and we are now helping her in the process of registering the infant in a NYC/DOE day care program in the neighborhood where they live. This will allow the grandmother to return to work or receive training to prepare her for alternative job opportunities. The team’s commitment and caring fostered a trusting relationship between its members and the family. This allowed for the development of a circle of services and supports that includes family members, the principal, the teacher, and the health and day care services in the neighborhood in which she lives. Without the trust, hard work and belief that this young mother could succeed, she would remain home without an education or the prospects of a better future for her and her daughter.  Her mother would be overwhelmed and frustrated without the time or outlets for her own betterment.

The team will continue to offer parent training and visits to the home to assist and monitor the infant’s and the mother’s progress as well as connect them to needed services. A beautiful handmade quilt made by parents hangs in one of Sinergia’s offices and on it is embroidered, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”.  This particular case is a living example of that axiom.