In the summer of 2015, the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a five year, $1.5 million grant project “to develop and distribute educational materials and pilot supported decision-making models with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who reside throughout New York State.” In December of that year the grant was awarded to a consortium of Hunter College/CUNY, the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation (New York Alliance) and the Arc Westchester entitled Supported Decision-Making New York (SDMNY).

Since that time, SDMNY has worked closely with DDPC and Disability Rights New York (DRNY), the Protection & Advocacy agency for people with disabilities in New York to inform and educate a wide variety of stakeholders about supporting decision-making, and to design and implement two pilot projects, one for diversion of persons with I/DD from guardianship, and the second to restore rights to persons with I/DD currently subject to guardianship. Information sessions have been held in New York City and Westchester County, and SDMNY has made presentations at statewide conferences for providers, guardians, self-advocates, and the court system.

SDMNY is working with the NYC Department of Education to include support decision-making in planning for transition age youth, with the CUNY Theresa Riggio Scholars to make supported decision-making a part of inclusive post-secondary education, and with the New York State Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to ensure that Supported Decision-Making Agreements (SDMAs) will be recognized in providing benefits.

These efforts are beginning to have visible impacts. For example, an increasing number of New York Surrogates have incorporated supported decision-making into their decisions denying 17A guardianship petitions. By the end of SDMNY’s grant period, the project aims to trigger additional transformative changes among other stakeholder groups.