After 10 long years, we as parents are finally seeing the results of our joint advocacy with many organizations locally and statewide. Recently Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that $1.5 billion of the American Rescue Plan Funding is going to help address the desperate workforce shortage in the system that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This cannot come soon enough.
Advocates have been raising concerns about this for years with our former governor to no avail. Therefore, with inadequate wage increases for direct support professionals over these years their starting pay has slipped even closer to the minimum wage level. Given all of the responsibilities they have, it is far from a minimum wage level job. As a result of the inadequate pay, pandemic, and increasing demands there is a severe shortage of workers that is growing every day.
Hochul has thankfully opted to put funding in to reward those who worked through the worst of the pandemic, set up pay incentives for longevity, and initiate a credentialing process with pay increments, among other incentives with this new funding. While these are necessary steps to help to mend a system that has been on the verge of collapse; these are only first steps in our opinion. In order to ensure health and safely, assuring rights, and the quality of life for people with IDD, dedicated funding needs to be built into the New York State budget every year. This one-time infusion of funding will certainly help address the current workforce crisis; however, an adequate level of funding must be sustainable indefinitely and have cost of living increases built in year after year. The staff and supervisors who look out for our loved ones deserve to make a living wage, well above the minimum because they are looking out for the lives of human beings who require support, companionship, compassion and care.
We wish to thank Hochul for recognizing that this workforce crisis needs attending now by dedicating this large amount of federal funding to help fix it. However, as loving parents we want to see that our son Craig and all the individuals with IDD receive the care they need with adequate support indefinitely. It is the right thing to do.
Max and Joyce Donatelli