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July 29, 2020
Updated automatically every 5 minutes


July 2020

LIAC remains open and ready to serve families!

We can help! Reach us TODAY!

516-248-2222 ext. 10 (Nassau)  

631-234-0467 ext. 10 (Suffolk)

Visit us online at for valuable updated information, links to more in-depth guidance, or to fill out an online intake.            

El Long Island Advocacy Center brinda servicios y recursos en español. Por favor visite nuestro sitio web para más información.


Family Support Services (FSS)

Long Island Advocacy Center's Family Support Services (FSS) programs provide assistance to individuals with Developmental Disabilities who are in need of services, but have not yet qualified for Medicaid.

For those beginning their journey, our Benefits Advisement and Support for Eligibility (B.A.S.E.) Program offers comprehensive benefits advisement sessions covering topics such as the OPWDD initial eligibility process, as well as applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and general transitional support.

For those families who have already received their OPWDD initial eligibility letter, our Non-Medicaid Care Management Program can assist families with the next step of the Medicaid Waiver application process. Our agency will work with the individual and their family through the process of applying for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver, and will connect them with a Care Coordination Organization (CCO) when they are approved and ready for services. For individuals who are ineligible for Medicaid Waiver at this time, our Care Manager can connect families with FSS funded programs in the community that do not require Waiver approval.

Community Forum on Disability- Virtual Town Hall Meeting

Thursday, August 6th from 2:00-3:30pm

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the American Disability Act (ADA), the Community Inclusion and Development Alliance (CIDA) is co-hosting a virtual town hall meeting with Senator John Liu to discuss two pressing issues that are critical to the inclusion of people with disabilities within the community:

  • Special Education: Remote Learning, Virtual Services, Alternative Assessments;
  • Transition to Adulthood: Community Living and Housing Opportunities


New York State Education Department Assistant Commissioner Christopher Suriano who oversees NY state’s Special Education efforts will be participating to address the families’ questions, as well as a representative from OPWDD, for the conversation regarding community living for individuals with disabilities.

Interested in joining the discussion? Click here!


Anita Durney is an educational advocate with the Long Island Advocacy Center (LIAC). When Anita joined LIAC in 2008, she worked on Suffolk County’s Alternatives for Youth (AFY) Program, helping parents of at-risk youth understand their rights and advocating for the appropriate educational services for their child. In 2009, she continued her advocacy working with parents and families through the Suffolk County Division of Community Mental Hygiene Services (DCMH). While Anita continues to work with families through DCMH, in 2019 she began working on the Family Support Services Program in which she works with the families of individuals who have attained eligibility for services through the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) by helping them navigate the next steps of their journey. Anita is the parent of three young adults, one of whom has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and receives services through OPWDD.

You can contact Anita at:

Pam Zimmer holds a dual Master's Degree in Childhood and Special Education from Long Island University, and is the Benefits Advisor for the Long Island Advocacy Center. A staunch advocate for the special needs population, Pam joined LIAC’s team in 2020 and works with families to help obtain OPWDD eligibility. She can be heard speaking across Long Island on key topics in the field including Transitional Services and Benefits Advisement. Prior to joining LIAC, Pam worked as a Special Education teacher, Program Director and Educational Advocate for more than a decade and Pam served as a Director of Special Needs Programs in Nassau County for 6 years, expanding more than 30 social and vocational programs serving over 500 clients before branching out to co-found Possibilities Inc., an organization dedicated to providing social and vocational support for adults of all abilities.

You can contact Pam at:

LIAC started working with JJ*, an 18 year old student, through a program with the Nassau County Office of  Mental Health (OMH), in October 2019. In reviewing JJ’s records, LIAC’s advocate learned that JJ was first classified as a student with an educational disability during the previous school year when JJ was 17 years old.  JJ had an IEP and received Special Education services as a student with an Emotional Disturbance.  JJ had a long history of depression and mental health concerns which resulted in multiple psychiatric hospitalizations for suicidal thoughts.  The impact of JJ’s mental health in high school was significant and resulted in poor school attendance.

When LIAC’s advocate reviewed JJ’s current IEP, she realized JJ could not read. Throughout the IEP, there were comments such as “JJ needs to learn to decode” and “JJ needs to take responsibility for reading”.  JJ’s parent told LIAC they had been asking the school district to help JJ with reading since elementary school.  LIAC assisted JJ’s parent in requesting a CSE meeting to specifically discuss JJ’s deficits in reading.  LIAC strongly advocated for the school to provide JJ with a specialized reading program, however, the CSE felt the problem was emotional and that JJ needed to be placed in a therapeutic placement.  JJ refused the CSE’s placement recommendation and the district agreed to provide JJ with 1:1 specialized reading instruction 5 times a week- JJ excelled.

At JJ’s Annual Review CSE meeting, the reading teacher informed the district that JJ had no ability to decode and was testing at the lowest level of the reading program.  Based on the reading teacher’s report, and LIAC’s advocacy, the district agreed to provide an additional 40 minutes of daily reading instruction for comprehension deficits and JJ would also receive daily Extended School Year (ESY) services for 60 minutes specifically for reading.

Learning to read changed JJ’s life. JJ hasn’t missed any reading sessions during school closures and remote instruction.  The reading teacher noted exponential gains in decoding and a commendable commitment to learning.  JJ told the reading teacher that before learning to decode ‘words were just letters’; JJ went on to say “I have bought a lot of things over the years, but only recently could I read the word “thank you” on the shopping bags.”

JJ is hopeful for the future and is scheduled to graduate with a diploma in June 2021.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality.

Email us at

Submit an Online Intake

Nassau County: 516-248-2222 x 10

Suffolk County: 631-234-0467 X 10

LIAC Archived Newsletters and Resources:

May 5, 2020 Newsletter

June 10, 2020 Newsletter

June 25,  2020 Newsletter

July 15, 2020

OPWDD Video Presentation