Excellent piece in the Albany Times Union today from Northern Rivers CEO and MHANYS Vice Chair Bill Gettman on the need for funding for the human services workforce in the next federal stimulus package. MHANYS is working with the #3for5 campaign and our national partners at Mental Health America to advocate for additional behavioral health and human services funding in the next stimulus package.
Clarence J. Sundram’s letter regarding direct care staff was spot-on.
The COVID-19 crisis further documents and underscores the need for a robust, dedicated and talented front-line workforce (“Direct care workers deserve combat pay,” April 5). The agencies, women and men in the not-for-profit human services sector, are first responders for at-risk and vulnerable families, children and individuals. Throughout the state, not-for-profit human services welfare agencies respond to family crises 24/7/365, and our fiscal viability is at risk.
Consider that 60 percent of our front-line workforce qualifies for public assistance and the average annual pay for human services workers ranges from $27,000 in our region to $29,600 in New York City. Such pay is only 40 percent of the average for all workers and falls far short of the income needed to meet a survival family budget. Human services workers are overwhelmingly women (more than 80 percent) and heavily women of color (44 percent of the total). In short, the sector is an economic engine and vital first responders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible and long-lasting impact upon our families, communities and economic stability. As the federal government prepares an additional stimulus package, hazard pay financial compensation must be included for the individuals that get up every day, leave their families and provide direct services to the neediest, at-risk and health-compromised individuals.
CEO, Northern Rivers Family of Services