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.