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County Executive

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Putnam Creates Office For Individuals With Disabilities

03 May 2023

Putnam Creates Office for Individuals with Disabilities

Reaffirms commitment made to ThinkDIFFERENTLY.

Carmel, NY – Following measures proposed in Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne’s 2023 State of the County, last night the Putnam County Legislature voted unanimously to create a new full-time position in the Department of Social Services and Mental Health (DSS/MH) called the Coordinator for the Office of Individuals with Disabilities. The creation of this new position and office is a significant step forward in fulfilling Putnam County’s pledge to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY.”

ThinkDIFFERENTLY is a call to action to change the way individuals, governments, businesses, and communities think about and interact with those of different abilities. The goal being to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“Caring for a loved one who is differently abled, who may require unique and special needs, is a lifetime commitment. Navigating the system, let alone the world, as a caregiver or individual with IDD is extraordinarily difficult and too often becomes a full-time job. Residents in this county do it every day and we have a responsibility and opportunity to help them” said County Executive Byrne. “Putnam County should be proud to ThinkDIFFERENTLY and this is one of the first steps of many in our mission to better serve the ever-evolving needs of our residents.”

The Coordinator position was created by eliminating two currently funded, vacant part time positions in DSS/MH. The Coordinator will be responsible for helping connect individuals with IDD and their families with services available to them, as well as be a community liaison to the various organizations that exist to help and advocate for families and individuals with IDD.

“This move is a welcome one for me personally. As a parent of a child with a developmental disability, as someone who’s family has had to struggle with the system in place, I know how much of a real opportunity this is for government to make a positive impact on a lot of people’s lives,” said County Legislature Chairman Paul Jonke. “I thank County Executive Byrne for his dedication to making Putnam County a more inclusive place for those individuals with IDD, and I look forward to discussing more ways that we can ThinkDIFFERENTLY.”

Congressman Marc Molinaro is often considered to be the founder of the ThinkDIFFERENTLY movement, having started the initiative in 2015 in Dutchess County.

“Over 100 municipalities across the nation have formally made the pledge to ThinkDIFFERENTLY and I’m ecstatic to see that Putnam County is taking actual steps forward to that end,” said Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY-19). “How do we make the system easier for individuals to navigate? How can we break down barriers? Well, I can tell you that when you have someone like Kevin Byrne at the head of county government advocating on behalf of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, you’re going to get results.”

In 2017, then Assemblyman Byrne held a forum with former County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra and then Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro about ThinkDIFFERENTLY. Shortly thereafter, Putnam County adopted the ThinkDIFFERENTLY resolution, formally committing to the ideals of inclusion. For more information, visit


Putnam County Office Building

40 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, New York 10512

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