SWAN of NYS Statewide Advocacy Network– NY
Governor Cuomo Let’s Have Real Economic Justice
We are members of the Statewide Advocacy Network of New York SWAN-NY; family members and guardians of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. We would like to add our support to the many voices calling for funding the proposed minimum wage increases in the 2016-2017 NYS Budget for the dedicated Direct Support Professionals who work with people with IDD.
As family members we know first hand what Direct Support Professionals are required to do and how important their role is. We also know what happens when they are not there. We are seeing gaps in support now, and we worry for the future. As the movement toward having people with IDD ‘out in the community’ there is a need for more staff, with better training especially for those with more intensive needs. All these factors have led to vacancies with more and more people with no services at all.
We ask an enormous amount from DSPs ranging from accompanying individuals in the community, administering medication at the right times and in the right doses, following eating protocols, assisting in activities of daily living for many different people day after day after day. We also ask that they understand and are responsive to their emotional needs. Direct Support Professionals are trained to deal with challenging behaviors and non-verbal people. Everything they do must be recorded and checked. DSPs are there when we can’t be and they are family when family members are not around. This is not a job for just anyone, it takes dedication and caring.
OPWDD has an understanding that the voluntary agencies will be responsible to hire, train and supervise the support staff. Being a DSP is a job with enormous responsibility and pitiful compensation. We endorse raising the minimum wage but without funding from the state not-for-profit agencies cannot afford this raise. Agencies have few options to meet this requirement, some may have to close certain programs and some may have to go out of business, leaving our family members stranded.
Agencies are already having a problem filling vacancies when other jobs that are so much easier and less stressful pay the same. The vacancy rate is high and program staffing reflects this. There is a danger that safety will become a serious issue especially for those with more complex needs or challenging behaviors. Constant turnover is unsettling and threatens our family members sense of stability.
Direct Support Professionals deserve much more than they are paid now, and raising the minimum wage is the first step to equitable compensation for the important work they do. We wholeheartedly support this BUT without funding this raise there is a real possibility that both the agencies who employ DSPs and families who use Self Direction will find themselves unable to function at all and our loved ones will be deprived of needed services.
Western New York: DDAWNY Family Committee, Barb Delong
Capital Region: ENYDDA, Patrick Curran,
Hudson Valley Region: GROW, Will Mayerik
New York City: NYC FAIR, Elly Rufer