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Is New York State's budget fair to direct care workers?

"Disappointment" that more wasn't done to help deal with staffing crisis
Posted: 7:01 PM, Apr 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-02 19:03:57-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There is good and bad budget news for private, non-profit organizations that contract with New York State to hire direct support professionals (DSP) who care for the developmentally disabled.

Direct support professionals are the workers who help disabled individuals handle daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating and transportation.

The good news; under a new state budget, funding for direct care will increase by a total of 4%.

The bad news; the increase will not take place until next year and will not occur all at once, with a 2% increase scheduled for January 2020 and another 2% increase to take place in April 2020.

In addition, the new state budget does not include a cost of living adjustment for direct care workers.

Agencies that hire direct care workers have long complained that NYS under-funding has created a situation where it is hard to attract qualified individuals because the starting pay is around $11/hour.

An effort called #bFair2DirectCare has sought to convince Albany lawmakers that more funding is needed to provide a living wage of $15.50/hour.

The Developmental Disabilities Alliance of WNY issued the following statement:

"The members of DDAWNY [ddawny.org] recognize that this was a tough year so we appreciate the resources included in the final budget. Like our counterparts across the state, we are disappointed that more wasn’t done because we’re in the midst of a serious staffing crisis that affects the supports we can provide to the individuals and families we serve. We plan to continue advocating for fair wages for our workers and our agencies."

7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly has more reaction in the attached clip.