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Letter: Direct care workers deserve a living wage

Direct care workers deserve a living wage

With the New York State budget due on April 1, supporters of the #bFair2DirectCare campaign are holding their breaths for a chance to finally provide a living wage for direct care workers. Both the Assembly and State Senate realize their significance and included $45 million in their budgets for direct care workers to hopefully get the wage they deserve.

I do not understand why Gov. Andrew Cuomo sees them as worthy of only earning minimum wage. Direct care workers do a more significant job than just flipping burgers, yet they earn less than fast-food workers. Direct care workers are professionals. They undergo rigorous training, and perform physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting tasks to assist people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

As a part of this field, I find it disheartening that I assist families, but I am afraid to start my own. I do not want to start a family I cannot financially support. I work two jobs just to get a decent income. These burdens cause most qualified workers to switch careers. If direct care workers do switch careers for a better and more stable future, are they the ones to blame?

I cannot imagine a future where my family members may need quality care but there’s no one to provide the services. A recent statewide study shows that there is already a 43 percent vacancy rate increase since 2014. What are we doing as a community to support those who live to care for others?

John Rupert Malones


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