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New York Rules Visitation is Now Allowed at Certified Residential Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

New York Rules Visitation is Now Allowed at Certified Residential Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

This new ruling means certain families will be able to see their loved ones, provided they follow guidelines from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announced new visitation program guidelines for certified residential facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities on June 18, and the program was instituted on Jun 19. Families will be able to see their loved ones living in group homes or residential facilities now while ensuring that residents, staff, and visitors all remain safe from coronavirus. These guidelines, which were a collaboration between OPWDD and the New York Department of Health, were implemented because OPWDD understands that family separation can cause disruption, anxiety, and stress for everyone. 

In order to be eligible for visitation, residential facilities and group homes must

  • Have set visitation times 
  • All visits must be scheduled ahead of time and approved by the provider agency
  • Visits will be staggered—multiple families will not be in the same place at the same time, and there will be time for staff to clean between visits
  • All residents must be notified when one resident will have visitors, and social distancing guidelines will be reiterated
  • Visitors and residents must understand the risks of visiting—ahead of the visit
  • All visitors must be 18 or older, and, if possible, only family will be allowed to visit
  • Visitors will be denied at the facility if they do not pass temperature and symptom checks when they get there
  • If visitors report any coronavirus symptoms or exposure in the 14 days prior to visiting the facility, they will not be allowed to visit their loved one
  • Visitors must wear face masks at the facility and clean their hands upon arrival and throughout the visit

For the full list of guidelines, please refer to the OPWDD document. Contact your loved one’s residential facility to see if it has requested to allow visitation while adhering to these guidelines—visitation is not automatically allowed. Your loved one’s facility can also impose additional guidelines if it wishes to ensure everyone is as safe as possible. These guidelines provide an opportunity to see your child or loved one with intellectual disabilities again, which can reduce both your and their anxiety and give you time to connect again.

New York has provided specific guidelines for individuals with special needs throughout the pandemic. In April, the state released guidelines on hospitalization rights for children and adult children with special needs, as well as information on how future Medicaid cuts could affect your family. In June, the state announced that necessary special education instruction can take place in-person this summer, provided districts follow guidelines that have yet to be announced. We’ve also reported on ways that you can reduce your child’s anxiety surrounding coronavirus, whether it’s with an awesome new toy or an initiative like Caring for Each Other from Sesame Street. Need tips for how to have a safe and fun summer? Sign up for our Save the Summer newsletter, which will deliver an event of the day, family fun activities, and local resources to your inbox every morning!

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Jacqueline Neber

Author: Jacqueline Neber is a social journalism MA candidate at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. When she’s not reporting, you can find her petting someone else’s dog. See More

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