As the parent of a thriving young adult with developmental disabilities, I was shocked and saddened to learn Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2019-20 budget did not include funds to continue the bFair2DirectCare initiative. The bFair initiative is designed, through multiyear funding, to elevate wages for key direct support professionals (DSP’s) closer to a living wage. DSP’s provide assistance and support in homes and in the community to individuals with developmental disabilities.
The governor’s separate and worthwhile program to increase the minimum wage has ironically deepened a staffing crisis within the human services field by pushing potential employees to fast food restaurants, rather than work in human services. Most human service agencies have vacancy rates approaching 15 percent which negatively affects the quality of life (fewer community opportunities) for those receiving services and hastens staff burnout.
The work DSP’s do for my son and his housemates ensures that they reach their highest level of independence at home, work and in the community. The DSP’s job is meaningful, dignified and essential.
While I am aware of the newly discovered $2 billion hole in the state budget, that does not diminish the level of the staffing crisis human service agencies are facing. Cuomo and the leaders of our legislature needs to seize this challenge, rearrange their priorities, and ensure staff are available for the most vulnerable people in our state.