A case of successful collaborative advocacy

APA and others responded immediately to threats to funding for psychology internships in the New York state psychiatric facilities

“The New York 22”

On September 28, 2011, a staff member in the APA Education Directorate was notified by constituents of actions occurring in New York State (NYS) that would potentially remove all funding for psychology internships in the state psychiatric facilities. Staff immediately spoke with relevant NYS training directors to obtain additional information. The action, which was unexpected and unprecedented, targeted 3,500 temporary employees in one of the state unions within which the interns were classified. These cuts would have removed all funding for 22 interns who believed their stipends were secure, especially since the students went through APPIC Match, which serves as a contractual obligation between the internship site and the interns matched.

Education Directorate staff played a critical role by drafting an APA letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, communicating with other offices within APA to facilitate networking among programs and interns, and providing consultation regarding the next steps to be taken. APPIC Central Office was contacted, and they also sent a letter to Governor Cuomo, with outreach to his deputy secretaries for health, education, and policy management. The education and training community was alerted. APAGS was instrumental in sending an action alert to its members; this alert was widely circulated by APPIC and others, and as a result, the governor received many messages concerning this matter. The call to action was also prominently posted on the Education GRO website. Senior Policy Advisor Ellen Garrison, PhD, of APA’s Executive Office contacted the NYS Psychological Association and worked closely with them while coordinating messages among all involved.

Tension was heightened when the interns received termination notices effective October 20, 2011. Some of the students reached out to APA and APPIC for guidance and support. A meeting between the union and the governor on October 17 allowed for a reprieve. Both APA and APPIC received a letter dated October 25 from the NYS mental health commissioner, on behalf of the governor, indicating that NYS would honor its contract with the interns, whether or not the union voted to ratify the proposed contract.

The Education Directorate is pleased to have played an active role in ensuring that this important issue received the attention of all involved in a timely manner. We also appreciate the passionate response and involvement of other offices at APA, the students, our members, APPIC, and the NYS Psychological Association. This is a classic example of how a concerted and collaborative advocacy effort can reap substantial benefits.