COVID-19

A Message from AF President & CEO, Jeffrey Fox, Ph.D.

May 19, 2020

Dear Friends,

Some regions of New York State are beginning to reopen following the COVID-19 crisis. At this point, our region (Mid-Hudson) has not yet met all of the criteria set by the Governor to reopen.

In the meantime, we await a decision from the Governor to allow schools that operate over 12 months of the year to open for the summer session, as the majority of our education programs do operate in the summer. As soon as we hear of this decision, we will send out communication.

If schools are permitted to open for the summer session, we will collaborate with students and families on new protocols for staff and students to work together in our programs and facilities. Our highest priorities continue to be keeping everyone safe and delivering the best education and therapy services to our students.

Although our Adult Day Habilitation facilities remain closed by order of New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), we have restarted day services, delivered either remotely or in person at people’s homes. We continue to deliver Community Habilitation to support those living in the community as well as Employment Services.

Residential Services continue to operate, while we support people to practice social distancing and infection control. If you have not already, please follow our Facebook page to see many inspiring stories of our staff and resident.

I want to thank everyone — families, students, adults receiving our services, our staff — for all of your tremendous commitment to our mission.

Please stay safe as we continue to work toward reopening.

Sincerely,

Jeff Fox Signature
Jeffery Fox, Ph.D.
President & CEO

How to Help: A Needs/Wish List

Our community has asked, “How can we help those served by Abilities First and the staff during the COVID-19 crisis?” Below is a needs/wish list from our programs. Some of these items are critical necessities. Others provide education, physical activity, skill-building and entertainment, while helping pass the time.

Donations can be picked up or dropped off at various AF sites in the Hudson Valley region. Appropriate measures to avoid contact will be taken in order to protect the health of our individuals, staff, and donors.

Please email info@abilitiesfirstny.org or leave a message at 845.485.9803 with your name, phone number, item(s) you’d like to donate, and your geographic region.

Should you be unable to donate an item, monetary donations at every level will support the pressing needs of the services being provided.

We understand these are difficult times, and if you cannot donate directly, we welcome your ideas for activities and good wishes that will be sent to the staff. Email us at info@abilitiesfirstny.org.

Updated 05/26/2020

Critical Needs for Individuals & Staff

5,600 Isolation Gowns
Surgical Gowns
250 Isolation/Surgical Masks (with loops or ties)
N95 & KN95 Medical Grade Masks
2,000 Shoe Covers
Head Covers
Disposable Gloves (All sizes, Nitrile and Vinyl)
50 Plastic Face Shields
Clear Goggles
General/Homemade Masks
70 General/Homemade Pediatric Masks
25 Coveralls/Tyvek Suits – All sizes (L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL)
30 HazMat Suits / MOPP Suits
400 Large Heavy Duty Trash Bags
60 Size Large Long-style Lab Coats
60 Size XL Long-style Lab Coats
60 Size 3XL Long-style Lab Coats
5 Thermometer (temporal)
1,000 Thermometer Covers
6 Ear Thermometers and Sheaths
125 Toilet Paper
375 Paper Towels
340 Baby Wipes
160 Adult Diapers
100 Disinfecting Wipes or Spray
Hand Sanitizer
330 Pocket Hand Sanitizers
8 Gallons of Bleach
Hand Soap
40 Sterile Pads
50 Tissues
Hospital Beds with Railings or Cots
Seat Cushions and Bed Pads

Nourishment

Non-perishable Food
Food Deliveries
Grocery Deliveries
Napkins
Plastic Cutlery

Support & Activities

Exercise Equipment (treadmill, stationary bicycle, etc.)
Laptops (preferably with cameras to allow for continued virtual therapy, family visits, etc.)
Laptop Cameras
iPads or Similar Tablets
Amazon Echo Dots
Cell Phones
1 Roll of Postage Stamps ($.55)
2 Reams of Printer Paper
100 Mailing Envelopes
4 Printer Ink (HP63 2 Black, 2 Color)
Coloring Books, Markers, Crayons, Colored Pencils
Picture Frames
Paint-by-Number
Etch-a-Sketch
Word Searches
Online Entertainment (exercise, meditation, activity ideas, cooking ideas)
Planting Seeds
DVD Players & DVDs (educational, exercise, movies, TV shows)
Stereos & CDs
iPods or Similar MP3 Devices
Roku, Amazon Firestick or Other Streaming Devices
Board Games
Bingo Sets
Sidewalk Chalk
Outdoor Activities
Baking Supplies
Gardening Supplies

Program & School Updates

AF Educational Programs

Updated 05/20/2020

Dear Abilities First Families,

I want to thank you, first and foremost, for the fantastic job you are doing with your children during this time. Overnight, you became a teacher and therapist for your child, learned new technology right along with us, and continue to support your family’s needs. We understand these are very different and trying times, and want to remind you that we are here to help, please reach out to us.

As you know, Governor Cuomo has started re-opening regions throughout New York State. As of this writing, our region is not yet ready. I want to assure you that we are working diligently on our plan to return to schools safely. We have a committee dedicated to researching all guidance provided from the Governor, NYS Education Department, local and state health departments, various education coalitions, and the Office of Children and Family Services, just to name a few. We are also preparing a survey for our families to provide feedback on returning to schools and will get that to you when it is complete. I know the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) posted an interim guidance to return to schools this past Tuesday, and many people have expressed concerns about its content. As it states, this is just a guidance for us to refer to, and we are still waiting for guidance from the education field.

Governor Cuomo also announced today that summer school will not open for in-person classes, and we will continue to do distance learning for those children that are recommended for extended school year services. Additionally, the Governor said that is is still too early to make a decision about opening for the fall, especially in light of concerns about possible COVID-19 symptoms in young children.

As we progress through our plan, and receive more direction about the fall, we will continue to update you on the return to school. For those children that will be graduating, we are putting a plan together for that too, as we certainly miss all of our students!

Thank you for your time,

Leann Coyle, MSED, SDA
Vice President of Educational Services
leanncoyle@abilitiesfirstny.org

For assistance and additional information, please contact your school’s Principal, listed below, by site:

AF Preschool at Myers Corners and Universal Pre-K (UPK)
ChristopherWilliams@abilitiesfirstny.org

AF Preschool at Cornwall
LeannCoyle@abilitiesfirstny.org

AF School at LaGrange (Firemens Way), AF Integrated Schools at Red Hook and Violent Avenue
KerriBrown@abilitiesfirstny.org

AF School at New Windsor – Straus Family Pavilion
JessicaLovinsky@abilitiesfirstny.org

We are all working remotely at this time. If email is not accessible for you, please call the main number and leave a message at 845.485.9803. We will get back to you.

Please also check back for any possible changes and updates. For additional information, please email info@abilitiesfirstny.org.

Adult Day Programs

Updated 05/20/2020

Although our Adult Day Habilitation facilities remain closed by order of New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), we have restarted day services, delivered either remotely or in person in people’s homes.

Participants in those programs who live in certified OPWDD residences continue to receive services in their homes. For participants in day programs that do not live in a certified residence, we are working to provide support to individuals and families in any way we can.

OPWDD is waiting on approval at the Federal level on a proposal that would allow us to provide ongoing day services to people that were attending our Adult Day Habilitation program. These would be remote services and supports such as phone calls, video conferences, and we could even potentially run errands for people who are quarantined. As soon as we have more information about this, we will communicate directly with the parties that are impacted.

Community Habilitation

Updated 05/20/2020

At this time, we continue to deliver Community Habilitation in-person and are providing support to many people living in the community via phone calls and video.

Employment Services

Updated 05/20/2020

Supportive Employment is offering coaching services face-to-face for those individuals employed that are considered essential staff. We are also utilizing remote support for people in job development.

Residential Program

Updated 05/20/2020

Workers in our residential program have been deemed essential workers. These dedicated and heroic people continue to provide excellent support to people living in our residential programs. Please take any opportunity you can to acknowledge our great employees who come to work to care for people with disabilities and keep them safe and healthy.

Residential Services continues its support to individuals in various settings, implementing the required precautionary and regulatory health measures necessary. These programs are under containment, where residents are remaining at home except for necessary or essential purposes, and visitation from non-residents is limited to medical and clinical necessity. We are encouraging people in our residential program to stay connected with family members and friends for support via video conference.

Early Intervention Services

Updated 03/30/2020

Early Intervention Services is supporting families that are approved for telehealth/teletherapy.

AF Staff

Updated 04/01/2020

In his most recent Executive Order, the Governor requires all workers to remain home or work remotely except for “essential services”. Internally, we are informing our staff that are considered essential. Whenever possible, members of our team are working remotely as we continue to execute plans for addressing the impact of the pandemic on our community and programs.

The Human Resources Department at Abilities First has compiled some links that may be useful to our employees and their families during this challenging time.  Employee can view these links on SharePoint, including information on health and services provided for those enrolled in benefits, temporary assistance, governmental changes surrounding mortgages and debt, local resources, as well as activities for kids (and adults!).  HR will continue to update this page, so if you know of something to add, please let HR know!

Resources

COVID-19 Facts; Relief for Individuals, Families, Workers; Educational, Stress-Reducing & More Activities

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for activity resources benefitting children, adults and families.

And please send some of your own ideas and activities that you are doing with your families in order to continue learning, building skills, keeping active and maintain stress while social distancing! Email us below or share on social media.

THANK YOU

for Helping to Enrich the Lives of Children & Adults in Our Communities

during the COVID-19 pandemic & always