There is a workforce crisis facing direct support professionals.
These are workers who dress, toilet and generally care for New Yorkers living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
These workers provide essential services but low pay has led many to seek employment at less stressful jobs that pay similar wages.
Funding from the American Rescue Plan allowed for direct support professionals to see a pay raise this year, but that was a one-time source of funding. So state Sen. John Mannion, chairman of the Senate Disabilities Committee, announced Tuesday he would seek $500 million, on a recurring basis in the state budget, to begin moving the needle on the staffing crisis.
“We have to put this money to where it’s most needed and that is in the workforce,” he said.
Mannion is also a proponent of tying the rate of pay for direct support professionals to inflation.
“People need to be paid a decent rate of pay,” Mannion said. “Tying it the rate of inflation is one thing, but we need to be able to set a minimum wage for the individuals who work in these fields because, honestly, as our regular minimum wage is rising, it’s pricing people out.”