While we support the Senate for proposing to add money in their one house budget bill for the developmental disabilities workforce, we also are urging support for similar funding for the mental health workforce. The same issues pervasive in the developmental disabilities field are true in the mental health sector as well. 

Our workforce is 24/7, our workforce works with people who are often the most vulnerable, our workforce also deserves a fair and living wage. The community mental health workforce also dramatically improves the lives of the people we serve. We needs a long term investment to enhance recruitment and retention of quality staff to work with individuals with mental illness and their loved ones.

As the Legislature and the Governor move toward three way discussions, we urge them to also add $50 million to the budget for the mental health workforce.

FIND YOUR SENATOR

Senate Republicans To Recommend $45 Million Increase To Support Fair Wages For Direct Care Professionals

March 13, 2017

ISSUE:

DISABILITY

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

NEW YORK STATE BUDGET

Senate’s Proposal Addresses Gaps Created By Minimum Wage Increases to Help Those Who Care for the Most Vulnerable New Yorkers

Senate Republicans today announced a 2017-18 state budget proposal that provides $45 million annually to compensate direct care professionals for the important work they do to support individuals with disabilities. The proposal addresses a lack of funding in the Executive Budget to help appropriately adjust salaries at not-for-profits that employ workers who provide state services for individuals with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “Thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families rely on direct care professionals each day to handle basic necessities, as well as life-saving tasks. We owe it to those employees to provide the resources necessary to earn the fair wage they deserve so that qualified, compassionate individuals will continue to perform this vital and rewarding work.”

Senator Catharine Young (R-C-I, 57th District), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “Direct care workers are dedicated professionals, responsible for the health and well-being of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. It has always been challenging for non-profits to find qualified direct care employees, and now these organizations are facing additional difficulties as they adjust salaries for the direct support professionals. During the Mental Hygiene budget hearing, we heard testimony that more than 80 percent of funding received by non-profit agencies goes directly to compensate front-line staff. The Senate’s plan will be a boost for the organizations and the DSPs, ensuring a fair wage and maintaining a quality standard of living for disabled individuals who rely on others for help meeting their needs.”

Senator Rob Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda), Chair of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, said, “This is a tremendous step on an issue that is very dear to me – one that we have been working on diligently over the past year. Senate Republicans are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with direct care professionals, individuals in the disability community, and nonprofit agencies who care for our most vulnerable population across the state. These employees deserve a fair living wage, and we will continue to fight for them in our state capitol. This goes beyond the state’s fiscal obligation to these providers – it’s a moral imperative to help those most in need and we cannot leave them behind.”

Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats) said, “This is an absolute priority. We cannot afford to risk the health and well-being of people with disabilities because New York State fails to invest in a stable, long-term workforce of trained and skilled direct care professionals.”

Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I, Oneonta) said, “Our direct service professionals are crucial lifelines to individuals with disabilities. These caring and compassionate individuals provide peace of mind for families and are integral to our communities – it is only right that they receive a fair wage. This funding addresses a dire need and will help keep in place a support system for our most vulnerable.”

Senator John Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope) said, “My colleagues and I in the Senate Republican Conference understand the tremendous work that our direct care professionals do on a daily basis to help those with disabilities. The $45 million in annual funding will allow these individuals to continue to provide the necessary, sympathetic care to those who need it most.”

Senator Jim Tedisco (R-C-I, Glenville) said, “The highest priority of any state budget is to help those who are most vulnerable. That’s why I’ve been so outspoken in advocating for a much-needed $45 million wage boost for our direct care workers who have the immense responsibility of caring for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens – people with developmental disabilities. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in advancing a budget that’s fair to direct care.”

Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport) said, “Direct care workers provide essential, high-quality services for some of our most at-risk neighbors. Because the work they do is so vital, these professionals should have the opportunity to earn the compensation they rightfully deserve. I’m proud our Senate budget calls for $45 million to help provide a fair wage to direct care workers and I hope to see this commitment reflected in the final budget agreement.”

Senator Pam Helming (R-C-I, 54th District) said, “Direct care providers dedicate an incredible amount of time and energy to the people they support every day. I began my career as a direct care worker so I know firsthand the important role they play in providing the most basic needs to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The time is long past due to give direct care workers a fair wage so our most vulnerable residents are able to get the care and compassion they need and deserve from qualified caregivers.”

Senator George Amedore (R-C-I, Rotterdam) said, “Our direct care providers are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing critical care and services to the most vulnerable members of our population. These funds are essential to help retain a qualified and dedicated workforce in this vital industry that so many New Yorkers rely on for care.”

Senator Elaine Phillips (R-C, Manhasset) said, “Direct care professionals work every single day to care for individuals with disabilities and improve their quality of life. Making this important investment will help reduce turnover, provide stability for patients and ensure that we keep these skilled, caring individuals doing the jobs they do so well.”

Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau) said, “Last June, I stood with families and workers who care for some of our most vulnerable citizens on Long Island asking for fair wages. It has been nine months without a response from the state, but today I am proud the Senate is stepping forward to ensure these workers – many of whom are trained in medication administration, CPR and other crucial services – are better compensated. The high turnover rates, vacancies, and overtime must end so those with developmental disabilities get the care they deserve.”

Senator Chris Jacobs (R-C-I, 60th SD) said, “I am a very strong supporter of the direct care professionals wage increase and I am very pleased that this initiative is part of our Senate budget proposal. Ensuring that these professionals who provide the most basic and critical care are appropriately compensated better reflects New York State’s priorities, while also reducing gaps in care and high turnover rates.”

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) said, “Direct care professionals deserve to be fairly compensated for the crucial services they provide to individuals with developmental disabilities. Families rely on these highly trained workers to assist their loved ones on a daily basis and we must do all we can to reduce the high turnover rate within the profession and ensure that adequate staff is in place to provide proper care.”

Senator Sue Serino (R-C-I, Hyde Park) said, “I am proud to stand in support of this critical funding because direct care matters. Our direct care workers go above and beyond to provide vital services and to improve quality of life for some of our most vulnerable neighbors. This funding will go a long way in ensuring that organizations that employ direct care workers have the resources they need to recruit, train and keep these invaluable employment opportunities.”

Senator Kathy Marchione (R-C-I-Reform, Halfmoon) said, “A budget is about much more than just dollars and cents. It’s also a statement of values that shows what truly matters. The $45 million funding increase that we are providing in our Senate budget proposal to support fair wages for direct care professionals demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to be fair to direct care. This funding will help the hard-working, dedicated, compassionate men and women of direct care who do this important work and assist their fellow New Yorkers. I’ve been a strong supporter of this effort since last fall and I am hopeful this critical funding will be reflected in the final 2017-18 state budget.”

Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) said, “Direct care work is physically and emotionally taxing. These are trained professionals who, every day, are responsible for the care of developmentally disabled individuals. They administer medicine and care for wounds, they do tube feeding and administer first aid. They form trusted relationships with those under their care and their families. Before the governor proposed the budget, my Senate colleagues and I heard of the importance of doing something this year. I hope we will see support from the Assembly and Executive and make it happen.”

Currently, many direct service professionals (DSPs) earn an average of $10-$13 per hour – just above the state’s minimum wage. Last year, the state implemented minimum wage increases that did not provide funding to account for the “compression factor” – the need to increase the salaries for more experienced DSPs and supervisors in order to maintain the current salary gap with minimum wage workers. Without new funding provided to the DSP employers providing services on behalf of the state, the salary gap will compound the existing high turnover rate among those providing these critical services, and lead to significantly increased vacancies as qualified individuals seek less strenuous minimum wage work.

The Senate’s proposal provides $11.25 million in funding to help implement wage increases in the current year’s budget. Starting in 2017-18, $45 million would be provided annually to further ensure fair wages for this sector and prevent negative impacts on developmentally disabled services.

The Senate’s one-house budget will be advanced and approved this week, followed by the start of open, public conference committees to iron out differences that exist between the Senate and Assembly plans.

A new state budget is scheduled to take effect on April 1. Senate Republicans today announced a 2017-18 state budget proposal that provides $45 million annually to compensate direct care professionals for the important work they do to support individuals with disabilities. The proposal addresses a lack of funding in the Executive Budget to help appropriately adjust salaries at not-for-profits that employ workers who provide state services for individuals with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “Thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families rely on direct care professionals each day to handle basic necessities, as well as life-saving tasks. We owe it to those employees to provide the resources necessary to earn the fair wage they deserve so that qualified, compassionate individuals will continue to perform this vital and rewarding work.”

Senator Catharine Young (R-C-I, 57th District), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “Direct care workers are dedicated professionals, responsible for the health and well-being of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. It has always been challenging for non-profits to find qualified direct care employees, and now these organizations are facing additional difficulties as they adjust salaries for the direct support professionals. During the Mental Hygiene budget hearing, we heard testimony that more than 80 percent of funding received by non-profit agencies goes directly to compensate front-line staff. The Senate’s plan will be a boost for the organizations and the DSPs, ensuring a fair wage and maintaining a quality standard of living for disabled individuals who rely on others for help meeting their needs.”

Senator Rob Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda), Chair of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, said, “This is a tremendous step on an issue that is very dear to me – one that we have been working on diligently over the past year. Senate Republicans are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with direct care professionals, individuals in the disability community, and nonprofit agencies who care for our most vulnerable population across the state. These employees deserve a fair living wage, and we will continue to fight for them in our state capitol. This goes beyond the state’s fiscal obligation to these providers – it’s a moral imperative to help those most in need and we cannot leave them behind.”

Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats) said, “This is an absolute priority. We cannot afford to risk the health and well-being of people with disabilities because New York State fails to invest in a stable, long-term workforce of trained and skilled direct care professionals.”

Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I, Oneonta) said, “Our direct service professionals are crucial lifelines to individuals with disabilities. These caring and compassionate individuals provide peace of mind for families and are integral to our communities – it is only right that they receive a fair wage. This funding addresses a dire need and will help keep in place a support system for our most vulnerable.”

Senator John Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope) said, “My colleagues and I in the Senate Republican Conference understand the tremendous work that our direct care professionals do on a daily basis to help those with disabilities. The $45 million in annual funding will allow these individuals to continue to provide the necessary, sympathetic care to those who need it most.”

Senator Jim Tedisco (R-C-I, Glenville) said, “The highest priority of any state budget is to help those who are most vulnerable. That’s why I’ve been so outspoken in advocating for a much-needed $45 million wage boost for our direct care workers who have the immense responsibility of caring for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens – people with developmental disabilities. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in advancing a budget that’s fair to direct care.”

Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport) said, “Direct care workers provide essential, high-quality services for some of our most at-risk neighbors. Because the work they do is so vital, these professionals should have the opportunity to earn the compensation they rightfully deserve. I’m proud our Senate budget calls for $45 million to help provide a fair wage to direct care workers and I hope to see this commitment reflected in the final budget agreement.”

Senator Pam Helming (R-C-I, 54th District) said, “Direct care providers dedicate an incredible amount of time and energy to the people they support every day. I began my career as a direct care worker so I know firsthand the important role they play in providing the most basic needs to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The time is long past due to give direct care workers a fair wage so our most vulnerable residents are able to get the care and compassion they need and deserve from qualified caregivers.”

Senator George Amedore (R-C-I, Rotterdam) said, “Our direct care providers are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing critical care and services to the most vulnerable members of our population. These funds are essential to help retain a qualified and dedicated workforce in this vital industry that so many New Yorkers rely on for care.”

Senator Elaine Phillips (R-C, Manhasset) said, “Direct care professionals work every single day to care for individuals with disabilities and improve their quality of life. Making this important investment will help reduce turnover, provide stability for patients and ensure that we keep these skilled, caring individuals doing the jobs they do so well.”

Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau) said, “Last June, I stood with families and workers who care for some of our most vulnerable citizens on Long Island asking for fair wages. It has been nine months without a response from the state, but today I am proud the Senate is stepping forward to ensure these workers – many of whom are trained in medication administration, CPR and other crucial services – are better compensated. The high turnover rates, vacancies, and overtime must end so those with developmental disabilities get the care they deserve.”

Senator Chris Jacobs (R-C-I, 60th SD) said, “I am a very strong supporter of the direct care professionals wage increase and I am very pleased that this initiative is part of our Senate budget proposal. Ensuring that these professionals who provide the most basic and critical care are appropriately compensated better reflects New York State’s priorities, while also reducing gaps in care and high turnover rates.”

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) said, “Direct care professionals deserve to be fairly compensated for the crucial services they provide to individuals with developmental disabilities. Families rely on these highly trained workers to assist their loved ones on a daily basis and we must do all we can to reduce the high turnover rate within the profession and ensure that adequate staff is in place to provide proper care.”

Senator Sue Serino (R-C-I, Hyde Park) said, “I am proud to stand in support of this critical funding because direct care matters. Our direct care workers go above and beyond to provide vital services and to improve quality of life for some of our most vulnerable neighbors. This funding will go a long way in ensuring that organizations that employ direct care workers have the resources they need to recruit, train and keep these invaluable employment opportunities.”

Senator Kathy Marchione (R-C-I-Reform, Halfmoon) said, “A budget is about much more than just dollars and cents. It’s also a statement of values that shows what truly matters. The $45 million funding increase that we are providing in our Senate budget proposal to support fair wages for direct care professionals demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to be fair to direct care. This funding will help the hard-working, dedicated, compassionate men and women of direct care who do this important work and assist their fellow New Yorkers. I’ve been a strong supporter of this effort since last fall and I am hopeful this critical funding will be reflected in the final 2017-18 state budget.”

Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) said, “Direct care work is physically and emotionally taxing. These are trained professionals who, every day, are responsible for the care of developmentally disabled individuals. They administer medicine and care for wounds, they do tube feeding and administer first aid. They form trusted relationships with those under their care and their families. Before the governor proposed the budget, my Senate colleagues and I heard of the importance of doing something this year. I hope we will see support from the Assembly and Executive and make it happen.”

Currently, many direct service professionals (DSPs) earn an average of $10-$13 per hour – just above the state’s minimum wage. Last year, the state implemented minimum wage increases that did not provide funding to account for the “compression factor” – the need to increase the salaries for more experienced DSPs and supervisors in order to maintain the current salary gap with minimum wage workers. Without new funding provided to the DSP employers providing services on behalf of the state, the salary gap will compound the existing high turnover rate among those providing these critical services, and lead to significantly increased vacancies as qualified individuals seek less strenuous minimum wage work.

The Senate’s proposal provides $11.25 million in funding to help implement wage increases in the current year’s budget. Starting in 2017-18, $45 million would be provided annually to further ensure fair wages for this sector and prevent negative impacts on developmentally disabled services.

The Senate’s one-house budget will be advanced and approved this week, followed by the start of open, public conference committees to iron out differences that exist between the Senate and Assembly plans.

A new state budget is scheduled to take effect on April 1.

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