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Letter: Cuomo should respond to direct support workers

Kudos to Buffalo News columnist Sean Kirst for capturing the human side of the staffing crisis facing the Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) field in New York State, in his Jan. 18 piece.

As a direct support professional (DSP) myself, I can relate to the frustration and sadness portrayed by Kirst among DSPs, due to the lack of any new funding for salary increases in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019-20 state budget.

Nearly 110,000 DSPs serve as the key support structure, along with families, in caring for the over 130,000 I/DD individuals living in New York.

I think anyone would classify the DSP situation as a crisis. When you realize at any given time over 14 percent of all DSP jobs are open and unfilled and in the course of one year over 25 percent of DSPs hired leave their job and most often the field itself!

This crisis began as far back as 2015 and for the governor to have proposed funding in one out of the last five years has done little to minimize the crisis.

While my job as a DSP is challenging and includes medication distribution, teaching life skills, transporting individuals and managing behaviors, I love this job and approach it with passion and pride.

Please Gov. Cuomo live up to your promise and #bFair2DirectCare! Newly elected legislative leaders insist the final budget provides not for profit agencies with adequate resources to pay a living wage. I don’t want to have to leave this rewarding role!

Trevell Williams

Buffalo

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