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Letter: Direct care workers deserve a fair wage

There is a growing crisis for the care of individuals with developmental disabilities living outside of the family home. We are loving parents of a wonderful young man, Craig, who has Down syndrome, and who lives in a semi-independent living situation with six other young men with support from staff called direct service professionals. For any parent who has to rely on other adults to provide regular attention and support to their loved one knows that you want the most trustworthy, competent, caring, reliable (and more) individuals one can find.

We have been extremely fortunate being able to attract and retain some excellent staff. However, this has become more difficult as their salaries have not been able to stay competitive as the minimum wage continues to go up to $15 per hour.

We support the increase in the minimum wage, but the jobs for looking out for Craig and others like him deserve more than the minimum. Since the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities sets the rates for the voluntary agencies that staff their homes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature need to adequately fund these vital agencies.

Unfortunately, funding for these positions is not in the governor’s 2019 Budget. Currently, there are staff shortages statewide and it is becoming much more difficult to attract and retain quality staff.

As members of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York Family Committee, we have advocated for a living wage for them for several years. As parents who want our son, Craig and others to continue to have quality and trustworthy direct service professionals we urge our New York State officials to listen to our pleas to get a fair wage that recognizes the value and responsibilities their jobs require.

Our Campaign is aptly called #bFair2DirectCare. Please support our efforts.

Max and Joyce Donatelli

Hamburg

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