Disability advocates call for investments in direct service providers

By Spencer Conlin City of Albany

PUBLISHED 6:01 PM ET Nov. 16, 2022

Disability advocates rallied at the Capitol Wednesday to call on state leaders to commit to additional funding for New Yorkers living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the direct support professionals caring for them.

“We want to make sure that they understand the plight of our services, the plight of parents, individuals, as well as provider organizations,” New York Disability Advocates President Tom McAlvanah said.

With rising costs and what the group said was historic underfunding for decades, nonprofit agencies providing services to more than 85% of the state’s population living with intellectual and developmental disabilities are struggling to survive.

“They need to be paid a respectable, livable wage for their work,” Living Resources CEO Elizabeth Martin said.

What You Need To Know


  • Advocates call for an 8.5% cost of living adjustment for direct service professionals in the next state budget.

  • The current budget includes a 5.4% cost of living adjustment.

  • Advocates say with rising costs and "historic underfunding," nonprofit organizations offering direct service professionals are struggling.

This year’s state budget included a 5.4% cost of living adjustment for direct support professionals. Advocates want Gov. Kathy Hochul to have an 8.5% adjustment in the next budget.

“I’m 76, and I can’t help her much anymore,” said Ellie Rufer, whose 40-year-old daughter requires assistance from a direct support professional. “They can’t go out. Life has changed. Even with the day programs, they can’t go where they used to go because there are staff shortages.”

Those are just some of the differences she’s noticed recently.

“They’re well taken care of with the staff there,” Rufer said. “But there is just not enough.”

That's what brought her and dozens of others to the Capitol.

“This is what I can do,” Rufer said. “Make noise.”

With a turnover rate of 35%, advocates called it a dire situation but believed it can be corrected.

“Without funds for our staff, without a living wage, without an ability to raise the wages for our direct support professionals who are the backbone of the system, we will lose services,” McAlvanah said.

Member Centered Services


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IAC Training Institute

The IAC Training Institute offers courses relevant to individuals and agencies with developmental disabilities. In addition to mandated training such as AMAP and SCIP-R, IAC offers curated courses that enhance both knowledge and skills of agency staff from direct care to the executive level. In-person training is provided at the IAC offices and member agency locations throughout New York City and the surrounding area. In addition, training is provided online on the Zoom platform so that persons from throughout New York State can now access these courses without leaving their own location. The IAC training rooms are equipped with the latest audio-visual technology and are available for rental.

InterAgency Transportation Solutions

InterAgency Transportation Solutions (IATS) is a program of IAC that has coordinated transportation services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to and from their homes and adult day services since 2006. Today, IATS transports over 4,000 people daily for 11 IAC member agencies. IATS provides oversight and guidance to the bus companies, and as is stated below: