Direct support staff are hardworking individuals on the front lines of our communities, yet most are unable to earn a living wage.
In almost nine years, The Arc of Ulster-Greene and other organizations in New York that support people with developmental disabilities have only received a four percent funding increase for the wages of direct support workers. On average, that is less than half of a percent increase each year, which is hardly on pace with the annual rate of inflation. Our direct support workers currently earn, on average, between $10 and $13 per hour. We are facing new wage increases without adequate funding to sustain them.
And these are anything but minimum wage jobs.
Direct support workers do far more than just assist with transportation, help others bathe and prepare meals. They provide medical administration, including tube feeding, diabetic care and oxygen management. They teach life skills, such as money management and personal care. More than anything, they are someone’s trusted guide and have a strong personal relationship with those they support and their families.
At The Arc of Ulster-Greene, we believe that these invaluable workers deserve fair pay for their skills—and we know you do too.
Through NYSARC’s leadership, we have engaged in a statewide campaign, #bfair2directcare, which demands that our valued workers receive a living wage.
Low wages are not only unfair, but they jeopardize the quality of support provided. Recruiting and retaining talent becomes a challenge when these skilled workers must seek second jobs or work elsewhere. Employee turnover can be particularly traumatic for a person with a developmental disability after having established a trusted relationship with their worker.
This not only presents a crisis for the 1,300 people supported by The Arc of Ulster-Greene, but also the more than 130,000 people in the State of New York with autism, a serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or another developmental disability.
If that were your child, sibling or friend, you would want the best looking out for them. There are many ways you can get involved before the next State budget is prepared:
- Write a letter to Governor Cuomo.
- Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper encouraging your neighbors to get involved.
- Talk to leaders in your community, including members of the clergy, service club leaders, local government officials, business leaders and college/university leaders, asking them to send a letter to Governor Cuomo, state senator or their local assemblymember.
- Schedule a visit with your senator and/or assemblymember in their District office and invite another parent, a direct support staff or person supported to join you.
I encourage you to please help us—our voices are stronger together. Your participation in this campaign is what will initiative change in Albany.
Thank you for your support and enthusiasm in this effort.