CNY Advocates for People with Developmental Disabilities Say a Pay Crisis Threatens Staff Levels and Care for Clients

Raven Brink, Chris Bolt - WAER

August 31, 2021

More than 140,000 New Yorkers are being left without sufficient care, according to advocates for people with developmental disabilities. Care giving organizations report 25 percent of their positions are left vacant, due to a mounting funding crisis. And care workers haven’t seen a raise in 10 years, leading to staffing shortages. ARC of Madison Cortland Executive Director Chris Evans says this has left many people without the care they need.

“We are paying employees in many cases just over minimum wage, and as a result we are not attracting new employees and struggling to keep current DSPs… . To say we are in the midst of a hiring crisis is an understatement.”

Ellen Weinstein’s daughter Lisa has been receiving services for decades. She still worries how staffing shortages will affect them.

“…but in recent years the waiting list keeps growing as more and more of the most vulnerable struggle for access, and being in the system and having had services before is no longer a guarantee that services will continue.  The outdated infrastructure on which the delivery of disability service is based needs to change.”

Direct Support Professionals, also known as DSPs, provide care, housing, meals, and more, while also connecting their clients to the outside world. Assemblymember Tom Abinanti says these workers deserve an increase in pay.

“ I would like to see us insist that … agency personnel receive a pay that is equal to the pay of state personnel of comparable jobs.  That means the state of NY has to step up to the plate.”

Members of New York Disability Advocates joined local organizations in calling for more investment in care-giving staff. They hope new governor Kathy Hochul will listen and support a living wage for the more than 90-thousand care workers.

Local organizations joining the outcry include Access CNY, Arc of Onondaga, The Arc Madison Cortland and other groups. Assembly member Pam Hunter expressed willingness to champion the cause of a pay raise to help attract workers and help retain those already in the field.

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