White Plains, NY — On Monday night, the Board of Legislators unanimously approved the creation of a new Advisory Council on People with Disabilities for Westchester County.

The Council will assist county government in matters concerning the issues, problems, needs, and interests of Westchester residents with disabilities.

Legislator Nancy Barr (D - Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook), Chair of the Board’s Environment Health and Energy Committee, said, “The county’s advisory boards and councils are indispensable channels through which government can directly hear the voices and the needs of the people. This Council is going to be especially important, allowing the county to better help residents with disabilities and their families, navigate the challenging and often changing landscape of services and support.”

Legislator Kitley Covill (D- Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers), Chair of the Board's Social Services Committee said, "It's our job in county government to protect the rights of, and provide the necessary support to all county residents, including people affected by disabilities. This new Council will be a crucial conduit for the exchange of advice and information between residents, families, advocates and the county offices and departments tasked with protecting and supporting people with disabilities."

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “These are difficult times for the many hundreds of individuals and families affected by disabilities in Westchester County. With dramatic changes stemming from the federal government necessitating New York State to switch from ‘service coordination’ to ‘care coordination,’ people need help dealing with housing, services and supports, aids to daily living, job finding, supported employment, and more. Arrangements for implementing this shift are still being shaped, though the rules have already taken effect. This Advisory Council can begin to provide the necessary help as we prepare to deal with these changes.”

The Council will be composed of 19 members. The County Executive will appoint seven members to be confirmed by the Board of Legislators each having certain disabilities or being a representative of an organization that provides services to people with such disabilities. Those disabilities are intellectual/developmental disability, physical disability, blindness/legal blindness, deaf or hard of hearing, mental health disability, autism, and learning disability.

The County Executive also will appoint, with Board approval, one member each from the county’s Office for People with Disabilities and the Departments of Community Mental Health, Social Services, Health, and Emergency Services. These will be non-voting ex-officio members.

Additionally, four at-large members will be appointed by the County Executive, and three will be appointed by the Board of Legislators, all requiring Board approval.