Visit our Facebook Page to see more photos from the rally.
Direct support professionals, advocates, and legislators rallied at the Broome County Courthouse in Binghamton, NY on February 8, calling on the New York State legislature and Governor Cuomo to include $55 million in the NYS budget to pay direct support professionals a fair, living wage.
The Arc Schuyler is a member of the #bFair2DirectCare coalition, a network of major voluntary developmental disability provider agencies in New York State. The chapter was represented by its board president, Harold J. Hoffmeier, Jr., executive director, Jeannette Frank, and many of its direct support professionals.
“Direct support professionals are providing daily care and services to our family members and loved ones with disabilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Hoffmeier. “It’s a demanding job that requires continuous training and a high-level of responsibility and skill. These are not minimum wage jobs.”
Hoffmeier spoke publicly at the rally along with direct support professionals, Amy Faulkner and Joe Inthanongsak.
“We are responsible for the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, and the wages currently afforded to us by New York State do not compensate for that responsibility. They do not reflect the degree of skill required of us. They do not make the level of commitment required of us,” said Inthanongsak.
The Arc of Schuyler is among the many nonprofit provider agencies funded by NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities that collectively employ nearly 100,000 direct support professionals and deliver 85-percent of the needed services to approximately 130,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York State. Almost all funding for these agencies comes from the government at rates set by the government.
While the #bFair2DirectCare coalition was successful in 2017 in getting the Governor and Legislature to include $191 million in the enacted state budget to provide two consecutive 3.25% wage increases for direct support professionals, advocates argue it is not enough to fully fund living wages. According to The Arc New York, direct support professionals currently earn on average between $10 and $13 per hour.
“Statewide, reimbursement for direct support professional wages has increased just 1.4 percent per year over the last eight years,” said Executive Director, Jeannette Frank. “We are losing direct support professionals to higher paying entry-level job sectors that can continue to increase their hourly wages. Recruitment and retention is difficult.”
State-run programs for people with developmental disabilities and their staff are reimbursed at a higher rate than those in the voluntary sector. If nonprofit programs are eliminated due to insufficient staffing, those still-needed services would likely be provided by state agencies, at a higher cost to taxpayers.
The #bFair2DirectCare coalition and its members continue to advocate to secure living wages for direct support professionals. For more information, visit www.arcofschuyler.org.