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#bFair2DirectCare: “100 Day Justice Agenda” is incomplete without fully funded living wage for direct support professionals

Living wage for DSPs is economic justice for those who support New Yorkers with developmental disabilities

Staffing shortages & heavy overtime continue as workforce crisis persists

ALBANY, NY – #bFair2DirectCare responded to Governor Cuomo’s ambitious “2019 Justice Agenda” released earlier this week.

“Any 100-day justice agenda that doesn’t fund a living wage for direct support professionals is incomplete. What would FDR do? We believe he’d live up to his own words, highlighted just two years ago in a State Capitol exhibit on economic justice,” the Coalition said.

FDR’s words were displayed in a 2nd floor exhibit along with powerful quotes from the late Gov. Mario Cuomo’s “New York Idea,” in which government uses the proceeds of economic growth “so that we can take care of those who will never be able to care for themselves.”

Direct support professionals work with persons who have autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities and are responsible for everything from helping with daily tasks to administering medication. DSPs are employed by non-profit agencies who receive almost all their funding from government and provide services on behalf of the state government, which began relying on non-profits after the Willowbrook scandal of the 1970s.

Nearly three-fourths of the state’s 90,000 DSPs are women and more than half are black or Hispanic.

In 2017, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature included the first two years of a six-year plan to provide a living wage for direct care workers. However, funding has not been committed for the rest of the plan, leaving these non-profits in a perpetual staffing crisis and DSPs struggling to make ends meet.

“Unless Governor Cuomo and state legislators finish the job, non-profits across the state will continue to lose people to fast food restaurants or big-box stores, where DSPs can be paid more for less demanding work,” the Coalition said.

Earlier this week, a bipartisan coalition of current and newly elected state legislators joined parents, self-advocates, DSPs and non-profit leaders at a rally on Long Island to call for the additional funding.

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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 living wage that is commensurate with their vital support responsibilities.

#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

New York Association of Emerging & Multicultural Providers

The Arc of New York

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