DDPC Announces Partnerships to Improve Services for People with Dual Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Diagnoses


The New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is pleased to announce $3 million in grant funding for two five-year pilot projects to address the unique and co-existing needs of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities experiencing mental health challenges.

The two DDPC funded grants are in partnership with the Office of Mental Health, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the University of Rochester Medical Center to provide medical staff, families, and people with developmental disabilities more resources and tools to respond in a mental health crisis.

 “It is well documented that people with developmental disabilities do not have their needs responded to in the best way at in-patient medical facilities, and this is exacerbated by those in mental health crisis,” said DDPC Acting Executive Director Vicky Hiffa. “This is an area we have long wanted to address in a meaningful way.”

One pilot program will provide $1.5 million over five years to the University of Rochester Medical Center, to the Division of Transitional Care Medicine and the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, to develop training for acute care nurses to understand health care needs and possible communication barriers, and to better respond to people who are dually diagnosed and in crisis.

Nurse trainings will begin at the University of Rochester Medical Center and are expected to expand to a minimum of 10 additional hospitals, and will include classroom sessions, simulations and in-person pairing with people with developmental disabilities and family members.

“People with developmental disabilities are in urgent need of timely, specialized care, “said Karen Keady, chief nursing executive at the University of Rochester Medical Center, “DDPC’s investment will help us train a new generation of nurses to address this crisis and provide long-term stability and treatment for those in our region."

The DDPC is also partnering with OMH and OPWDD to create two Home Based Crisis Intervention Teams to specifically respond to youth with developmental disabilities living at home and experiencing a mental health crisis. OMH is providing $6.8 million over five years to fund the teams, DDPC is investing $1.5 million to support the specialized staffing in the pilot period, and OPWDD is providing training and technical assistance. The teams will deliver specialized support to young people with developmental disabilities at risk of being placed in a more restrictive setting because of their mental health challenges.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan, said,  “Children and youth with both developmental and behavioral health needs require specialized care and services that can be difficult to access. By partnering with OPWDD and DDPC, we will expand access and help provide more young people who are dually diagnosed with appropriate care in the least restrictive setting possible.”

“OPWDD is very excited to partner with DDPC and OMH on this initiative which will support youth with developmental disabilities that experience a mental health crisis to safely remain at home with their families,” said OPWDD Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld.  “The Home Based Crisis Intervention Teams will be trained to provide intensive supports that can help stabilize a young person during times of crisis, avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits.”  Both grant-supported initiatives are expected to start in January 2023.