PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND CARE PROVIDERS JOIN WITH COUNCIL MEMBERS
IN THE1 IN 150 CAMPAIGN — $1.5 MILLION AUTISM INITIATIVE
New York, NY, Wednesday, June 18, 2008 — Parents, youngsters, teachers, and councilors gathered at City Hall to ask the City Council for the continuation of valuable autism services on Wednesday, June 18, 2008. More than 50 representatives from a variety of organizations attended, including UJA-Federation of New York, QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community), Samuel Field Y, Ramapo for Children, Resources for Children with Special Needs, New York Families for Autistic Children, Sinergia, YAI/NIPD Network, F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System, Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, Mosholu-Montefiore Community Center, The Shield Institute, Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices, Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, Ohel Children's Home & Family Services, NYS AHRC, Imagine Academy for Autism, Lifespire, Eden II School for Autistic Children, and Association of Metro area Autistic Children.
“Autism and related communication disorders on the autism spectrum have reached epidemic proportions, as evidenced by the recent federal report by the Centers for Disease Control, which stated that 1 in 150 children are now born with autism. With this initiative, the Council has filled an important gap in services for autistic children and their families. While we cannot offer autistic children and their families a cure for the disorder, with this initiative, we can ensure that they can enjoy a better quality of life by providing them with year-round services that support their educational and social needs,” said Council Member David Weprin.
Autism strikes people of all economic, religious, racial, and national backgrounds with equal tenacity. While there is not yet a cure, it has been proven that 1) children with autism better respond and have a better quality of life when offered services and are accompanied by other children; and 2) early detection and parent awareness and training leads to early intervention, which is critical to children receiving proper educational settings.
“As a parent of an autistic child, I know that every day is a race against time to receive the services that can shape the rest of your child’s life. I am proud to stand here today to call for the city to continue to fund a progressive and comprehensive program that delivers services to parents and children in their own neighborhoods. This citywide initiative recognizes the realities of autism: that it is growing; that it can affect anyone, anywhere; and that no family should have to waste valuable time because of lack of accessible, affordable services,” said Council Member Hiram Monserrate.
“A recent UJA-Federation study showed there is a significant gap in government support for programs serving those children and youth who are higher functioning — including those with Asperger’s — beyond the normal school day. While the government funds some early-intervention services, and in-school supports and aid to families with children on the lower end of the spectrum, families often face significant hurdles in accessing appropriate assessments and quality care, which is critical for the development of children on the autistic spectrum and for respite for their families,” said Elana Broitman, director of city policy and public affairs at UJA-Federation of New York.
Thanks to the City Council's "1 in 150" Autism Services Initiative, about two-thirds of the $1.575 million is being used in fiscal year 2008 to support wraparound services for high-functioning children on the autism spectrum, who otherwise do not qualify for publicly funded programs. (About a third of the children on the autistic spectrum are higher functioning). The rest of the funding is used to reach out to and educate thousands of parents and caregivers through local community conferences and workshops.
“I am proud to stand with my colleague, Council Member David I. Weprin, sponsor of the Autism Initiative, which allocated $1.5 million in funding to provide services to people with autism and their families. This initiative has provided direct services in all five boroughs to more that 230 children, as well as training and education seminars to 7,800 throughout the five boroughs. As chair of the New York City Council Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, and Disability Services, I have learned much about the growth of autism, and of the incredible successes that early detection and intervention can bring to children born with this illness. I firmly believe that support for these important community-based service organizations is strongly warranted," said Council Member Oliver Koppell.
Wraparound services for 230 children include after-school programs, weekend respite, a basketball league, holiday activities, parent and teacher training, bilingual services, a crisis-intervention program, kids clubs, autism workshops, and outreach and awareness activities.
A child participating in Transitions at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan said: “I enjoy Transitions a lot, because I think it is the only class where I feel confident, and where I feel normal. I like the activities that get us going places — like Columbus Circle, the Museum of Natural History, and our planned trip to Central Park. I would recommend this program to other kids. . . . The people in Transitions are nice — the leaders and the other kids who are there. I really look up to the kids at Transitions because they are nicer to me and make me happy, which sometimes doesn't happen at my regular school. I hope to be a part of this program again.”
This initiative also provides access in all five boroughs to treatment and services, and helps families and educators learn how to address the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders. “Under the initiative, QSAC trained and educated parents and caregivers in Queens and held two public conferences with more scheduled this summer. We were surprised by the overwhelming amount of appreciation from our conference participants, many of whom stated this was the first concrete information they had received on autism,” said Gary Maffei, executive director of QSAC, one of the groups providing training. “We urge the Council to continue to fund the Autism Initiative in the 2009 budget to ensure that families of high- and low-functioning autistic children and youth continue to have free access to the education and referral services they so badly need.”
“The 1 in 150 initiative is a landmark in funding for all individuals diagnosed with autism and their families. Our thanks go out to Councilman Weprin, and to all the Council members who helped make this innovative legislation a reality, and we hope it will continue to make a difference in the lives of thousands of New York families in the upcoming year,” said Andrew Baumann, CEO of NYFAC.
“Art Communicates Abilities” Exhibit to benefit QSAC, Inc.
A trio of artists deemed the Artists in Dialogue have created an initiative called PAPA (Professional Artists for People with Autism). This trio will exhibit their new works in a show entitled “Art Communicates Abilities” at the Broome Street Gallery in Soho. The exhibit will run from February 17 to March 1, 2009 and will benefit QSAC, a non-profit organization servicing the autistic community.
In addition, on Sunday, February 22 at 2pm a special auction hosted by a professional auctioneer will be held, with a percentage of all sales donated to QSAC. A preview of the works to be auctioned will start at the opening of the exhibit.
The Broome St. Gallery is located in Soho at 498 Broome Street (at West Broadway). The gallery is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays 11:00a.m. to 6:00p.m.
Three Artists in Dialogue have created an initiative called PAPA (Professional Artists for People with Autism) and will exhibit their work in a show entitled "Art Communicates Abilities" as a charity benefit to QSAC, Inc. This exhibit will be held at The Broome St. Gallery in New York City from February 17 through March 1, 2009. The auction is scheduled for Sunday, February 22 at 2 p.m. A percentage of all sales during the exhibit and auction will be donated to QSAC. The artists will host a cocktail party on February 17 and have hired a professional auctioneer for 2/22. Two of the three artists are employed by the NYC public school system and are highly specialized in working with autistic students.
QSAC AWARDED over $200,000 IN STATE FUNDING
July 28, 2008, New York, NY: Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) has just been awarded $210,000 in discretionary funding from the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate.
These funds, which were allocated by Senator Frank Padavan (R. Queens) and his colleagues Senators Serphin Maltese (R. Queens), Tom Duane (D. Manhattan) and George Onorato (D. Queens) as well as Assembly Members Michael Benedetto (D. Bronx), Richard Gottfried (D. Manhattan), Andrew Hevesi (D. Queens), Margaret Markey (D. Queens) and Audrey Pheffer (D. Queens), will be used to support direct programming for children and adults with autism, as well as their family and caregivers. Funding will also be used to renovate several of QSAC’s facilities in Queens.
“QSAC’s commitment to helping children, adults and families facing autism is remarkable,” Senator Frank Padavan said. “Year after year, the members and leadership at QSAC continue to live up to their mission with passion and boundless energy. I am happy to secure state grant funding for QSAC and look forward to continuing to work with them in providing vital services and assistance for New Yorkers facing autism.”
Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), celebrating its 30th anniversary, was founded in 1978 by parents concerned about the lack of clinical, educational and vocational resources available for their children with autism. These parents strongly believed people with autism were capable of living at home, forming relationships, and becoming productive and integrated members of their communities. Through their commitment and energy QSAC was born.
Today, QSAC is an award winning organization and a leader in the provision of services to persons with autism and their families, providing direct services to over 900 autistic individuals and support, education and referral services to over 2000 parents, caregivers and siblings throughout New York City and Long Island.
According to Gary Maffei, Executive Director of QSAC, “these funds could not have come at a better time given the state of today’s economy and its impact on charitable giving”.
“Through the years, we have made it a point to partner with our local officials, on behalf of the families we serve, and we are extremely grateful for the support our legislators have shown us in this years’ budget,” concluded Mr. Maffei.
For more information about QSAC go to www.qsac.com.
QSAC Takes Top Prize in TV Contest
Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), a New York charity (www.qsac.com), was the grand-prize winner in the Chronicle of Philanthropy national contest, which invited people to create their own ideas of how volunteerism could be incorporated into their favorite television shows.
As the grand-prize winner QSAC, wins $5,000 from the Chronicle and a full page ad in the November issue announcing the prize. The entry was submitted by Joe Moran, assistant director of multimedia development and Marissa Goldberg development associate at the autism group, who created a video showing how 30 Rock could highlight the organization’s work in one of its episodes. The plot twist involves a cast member’s confusion over the words “artistic” and “autistic.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQUfVefUi2o)
Gary Maffei, Executive Director of QSAC stated, “We were excited to have our entry chosen as the grand prize winner. It’s a pleasure to work with such talented and dedicated people as Joe Moran and Marissa Goldberg on a daily basis.”
The contest was inspired by the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s iParticipate promotion, which featured more than 100 network and cable shows that included the theme of volunteerism into their programs during the week of October 19-25. Entrants in the Chronicle contest were encouraged to submit ideas of how they would incorporate their favorite charities into the plot lines of popular TV shows. More than 150 people entered the contest — and a committee of judges, including entertainment officials, celebrities, and nonprofit experts, awarded prizes to the top three entries.
QSAC, one of the largest agencies dedicated specifically to autism and an award-winning organization, provides comprehensive services and programs to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families in New York City and Long Island. Founded in 1978, QSAC today has 21 facilities in Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, and Nassau County. Over 2,000 people benefit yearly from its programs, including 900 individuals who receive direct services. Many of QSAC’s participants represent challenging cases referred to QSAC by the Boards of Education and New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. All of QSAC services are geared towards providing people with autism with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to lead a more independent, productive and fulfilled life.
Moran and Goldberg also are partners in MorGold Media (www.morgoldmedia.com), a production company that develops content for mixed media and live performance.