Preparing the Developmental Disabilities Field to Serve LGBTQ Patients
Special Projects Fund
September 29, 2021
An estimated 1.5–2.5% of New Yorkers have an intellectual and/or developmental disability (IDD).
IDD is a lifelong impairment and often requires complex and costly care. Individuals with IDD who identify as LGBTQ face even greater challenges, including barriers to employment, access to services, and social isolation. This population also faces higher rates of abuse, homelessness, discrimination, and poor health outcomes. Agencies that serve the IDD population are often ill prepared to meet the needs of LGBTQ patients. The New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is starting to fill this gap by partnering with the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals to inform the developmental disability field on best practices, but additional engagement with regional agencies is needed to amplify this initiative and integrate voices from the IDD community. In 2021, NYHealth awarded The Arc of Monroe a grant to launch a regional initiative to enhance the delivery of care for individuals with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ in 21 counties across New York State.
Under this grant, The Arc of Monroe will launch Supporting Safe Spaces, an initiative that will provide training and capacity-building to providers in the State that support this target population. The Arc will co-design the training and capacity-building curriculum with input from people with IDD who identify as LGBTQ. It will conduct on-site and virtual workshops at agencies in Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo and throughout Western and Central New York and the Finger Lakes region. Participants will become certified trainers in the Supporting Safe Spaces curriculum, and will then implement the training at their home agencies and across their networks. The Arc will also expand peer supports among agencies and people with IDD, helping them to create and sustain self-advocacy groups for learning, resource sharing, and peer support in a safe space. The Arc will also administer a private online community that will offer networking opportunities for agencies and be used to share resources, events, a newsletter, and lessons learned. The Arc will maintain a strong collaborative relationship with the New York State agencies and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals to coordinate and amplify efforts.