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#bFair2DirectCare Coalition Grows as Self-Advocacy Association of NYS joins ranks

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2016
Contacts: Bob Bellafiore bob@stanhope-ny.com 518-928-8471
Steve Greenberg steve@greenbergpr.com 518-469-9858
Twitter: @Fair2DirectCare

#bFair2DirectCare Coalition Grows as Self-Advocacy Association of NYS joins ranks Grassroots group run by and for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities joins push for living wage for workers who support them

ALBANY, NY – The #bFair2DirectCare Coalition today welcomed the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS) to the campaign for a living wage for the professionals who care for persons with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.
“Without direct support, many people with developmental disabilities wouldn’t be able to have their voices heard. Paying direct support a living wage is just the right thing to do,” said SANYS President Tim Tompkins. SANYS is a not-for profit, grassroots organization run by and for people with developmental disabilities. “Self advocates” is the term used in the community to describe persons with developmental disabilities.
“We are proud to stand with our colleagues in this important fight,” said SANYS Administrative Director Steve Holmes. “Our members are New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. We live this life. We know better than anyone that direct support professionals are key to helping our members live full lives. New York State needs to recognize this too and allow them to be paid a living wage.”
“Adding SANYS to our coalition helps send Albany the message that we are growing and won’t give up. We won’t give up until the state is doing all it can to ensure New Yorkers with developmental disabilities and the people who support them are treated with the highest level of respect,” said Ann Hardiman, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Community & Residential Agencies, and a leader of the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition.
SANYS’ goal is to help create a person-centered and person-directed system of supports. SANYS supports self-advocates and self-advocacy groups regionally and statewide. Learn more at www.sanys.org.
The #bFair2DirectCare Coalition was formed earlier this year to educate state lawmakers about the looming crisis in the field.
Organizations that support individuals with developmental disabilities have seen only one rate increase since the recession of 2008, an average increase of less than one-half of one percent per year. Now they face as much as a 67 percent increase in the mandated minimum wage, new federal overtime rules and growing competition from other employers.
More than 90 percent of the funding that sustains these organizations comes from government, and 80 percent of that goes directly to wages for staff who care for New Yorkers with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.
The only way that these organizations can raise wages for direct support professionals, teachers’ aides, drivers, cooks and others making minimum wage, or a little bit more, is for government to increase the rates they provide for the delivery of these critical services to New York’s most vulnerable citizens.
” Our state needs to see that our direct support professionals deserve to have a better pay and credentials. What they do matters,” said Letishia Comstock, a self advocate receiving supports from Herkimer ARC. “By the state not investing in our direct support professional positions, you are basically saying that my son Gabriel and I don’t deserve to have the best and well educated Direct support professionals working with us. This is New York’s chance to invest in some of its hardest workers and provide for a better future for us all.”
“Direct support professionals are the key people in my life and they help me do the things that I need to do and I need them to be there when I really need them,” said David Liscomb, Self-Advocate, former SANYS Board President and former member of The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).
Members of the #bFair2DirectCare coalition include: Alliance of Long Island Agencies (ALIA), Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS), The Developmental Disability Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), The InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC), The NYS Association of Community Residential Agencies (NYSACRA), NYSARC Inc., New York State Rehabilitation Association (NYSRA) And our newest member: Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS)