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#bFair2DirectCare Unveils Times Square Billboard Urging Gov. Cuomo to ‘Say Yes’ to Speeding Up Living Wage for Direct Care Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASETuesday, March 6, 2018

CONTACTS: Steve Greenberg, steve@greenbergpr.com, 518-469-9858

Bob Bellafiore, bob@stanhope-ny.com, 518-928-8471

#bFair2DirectCare Unveils Times Square Billboard Urging Gov. Cuomo to ‘Say Yes’ to Speeding Up Living Wage for Direct Care Workers

 #bFair2DirectCare today unveiled a new 5,000-square-foot Times Square digital billboard that urges Governor Andrew Cuomo to “please say yes” to #bFair2DirectCare. “You can help,” the billboard says, by calling Gov. Cuomo.

Last year, the Governor and Legislature included the first two years of a six-year plan to provide a living wage for direct care workers who support New Yorkers with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities. #bFair2DirectCare has overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.

Next week, the State Senate and the State Assembly will unveil their respective one-house budget bills. #bFair2DirectCare is hopeful both will include a “spin up” of $18.25 million to speed up the time – from six years to four years – to begin paying direct support professionals a living wage. The requested sum amounts to 0.01 percent of the state’s $168 billion budget.

“We remain grateful to all state legislators and to Governor Cuomo for their actions last year. However, the crisis has grown worse over the last year. In 2017, 14.4 percent – or one in seven – of all direct support staff jobs were vacant, an increase of 30 percent since 2016 and up 80 percent since 2014, when the vacancy rate was 8 percent,” the #bFair2DirectCare campaign said. “Last year, one in three direct support professionals left the job after less than six months, many due to the fact that they can make more money in a fast food restaurant or big box store.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is not an upstate/downstate issue. This is an issue about basic human dignity. It is about supporting the dedicated direct care workers – who certainly deserve more than a minimum wage – so they can support their families while they continue to support the 130,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities,” the #bFair2DirectCare campaign said.

While the “spin-up” request represents a minute portion of the state budget, it will go a long way toward helping direct support professionals achieve a living wage more quickly.

Some 73 percent of direct care workers are women while 53 percent are black or Hispanic.

The non-profit agencies that formed #bFair2DirectCare serve nearly 130,000 New Yorkers and are facing a staffing crisis that is getting worse, not better. The non-profits receive 90 percent of their funding from government and provide these services at rates set by the state and for significantly less cost than the state has to pay if the state provides the services directly.

The #bFair2DirectCare billboard is running for a portion of every hour. It is located right across from the TKTS booth and was made possible through a donation from a New Yorker active in care for those with developmental disabilities.

# # #

About #bFair2DirectCare

#bFair2DirectCare gives voice to the more than 130,000 New Yorkers with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and who often cannot speak for themselves. #bFair2DirectCare is also the call to action to remind state leaders that direct care non-profit agency workers are agents of the state who need a fair rate of pay that is commensurate with their vital support responsibilities.

For more background, videos and news stories, go to www.bfair2directcare.com.

#bFair2DirectCare members 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)

Direct Support Professional Alliance of New York State (DSPANYS)

The InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC)

The New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation

(formerly two separate entities – the NYS Association of Community & Residential Agencies

and the New York State Rehabilitation Association)

The Arc of New York (formerly NYSARC)

Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS)

Statewide Advocacy Network of New York State (SWAN)

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/BFair2DirectCare

Twitter:            @Fair2DirectCare

Hashtag:          #bFair2DirectCare

Website:          www.bfair2directcare.com