Direct Support Professionals

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

On Jan. 29, 2024, New York State Senator John Mannion and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright reintroduced The Direct Support Wage Enhancement (S4127- A5268) bill. The bipartisan legislation would provide a $4,000 wage enhancement to employees who provide direct care support to individuals with developmental disabilities.

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“Without state funding to offer more competitive wages against other labor markets like food service or the retail industry, nonprofit provider agencies cannot effectively recruit and retain staff or maintain services,” reads Mannion’s announcement.

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are committed professionals whose mission is to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to thrive. They teach skills of daily living, develop personal care plans, give behavioral support, advocate and much more. They are grossly underpaid countrywide despite the critical care they provide, resulting in an escalating crisis that has seen DSPs jumping ship, group homes closing, and support services and agencies understaffed and overworked.

“The shortage is further exacerbated in [a growing number of states] due to changes and cuts to Medicaid and waiver programs,” reports the Autism Society.

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Additionally, pay is not keeping up with inflation. In New York, “starting pay is just over $16 an hour,” reports WXXI News. “And the nonprofits that employ the caregivers claim the 1.5% funding increase [Gov. Kathy] Hochul is seeking won’t even help them cover the costs of inflation.”

In May 2023, Hochul signed a budget that utterly failed DSPs. Forget them getting the salary hike they deserve — they didn’t get what they need to live. The $229 billion 2023-2024 budget landed on a mere 4% cost of living increase. WXXI notes that this funding was 1.5% more than Hochul’s original proposal.

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