Forum Focuses on Direct Care Wages

Written by on March 19, 2018

Submitted photo: (L to R) Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) Maddilyn Genovese representing Senator Robert Ortt and Jay Grasso of Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s office

News Release: Arc of Genesee Orleans

The fight for a living wage for Direct Support Professionals in New York State took center stage Friday night at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center. Amid signs and buttons proclaiming #bFair2DirectCare, Arc staff and individuals sat down with Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Jay Grasso of Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s office and Maddilyn Genovese representing Senator Robert Ortt.

Agencies like Arc of Genesee Orleans were promised funding last year to be able to give direct care staff a 3.25% wage increase, effective in January. “If the State of New York has promised someone something, then they need to deliver,” Assemblyman Hawley said, “You should have had it. You should have been able to spend it. You should have received what you were promised. The state of New York too often doesn’t deliver on its promises,” he said.

For nearly eight years, non-profit agencies which serve New Yorkers with developmental disabilities went without a funding increase, leaving Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) at low wages despite their critical work. To address this issue, #bFair2DirectCare formed and waged a statewide educational campaign to win funding for a living wage, phased in over six years.

Arc Associate Executive Director of Residential Services Deb Fox oversees sixteen community homes and several supportive apartments in two counties. She asked the legislative representatives for their insight. “While the fast food industry has the ability to raise prices and reduce their overhead to raise wages, our reimbursement rates are set. The regulatory expectations of social programs ties our hands. What is your suggestion on how we can compete for quality labor?”

Assemblyman Hawley replied, “I’m in business myself. It certainly is ludicrous that someone who is ‘working hard’ flipping burgers, pulling fries and onion rings can make $15.00 an hour when you and some of my employees don’t make that much.”

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