In a previous article we wrote about Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and discussed how they are the lifeline for the clients at Opengate, and other agencies like ours who care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. DSPs work closely with our individuals and their work is critical to the successful personal outcome for each of them.
DSP salaries are paid through the Medicaid program, but often are not enough to be considered a competitive wage. This leads to a high turnover rate and puts agencies in a constant state of recruiting and training new employees. Turnover is costly for any employer, and especially those who have direct, daily interaction with a vulnerable population. Many of our clients rely on a steady relationship with their DSPs. To adapt to changing personnel is often frightening and frustrating.
New York’s Governor Cuomo’s mission to increase the minimum wage for DSPs, along with others impacted by minimum wages, has garnered headlines across the state. At the crux of the issue for organizations such as Opengate is for the Governor to include additional Medicaid funding to offset the new wage standards and secure a financially stable workforce.
DSPs deserve to be paid in accordance with the commitment and dedication they bring to the profession. Their services are undeniably valuable as core personnel in direct care of our consumers. The job is often strenuous and stressful, but also rewarding for those who are well trained and dedicated to their charges.
Why are we concerned?
Unlike for profit industries, non-profit organizations can’t raise the price of their services to cover the wage increases. Funding levels through Medicaid must be expanded to reflect new minimum wage requirements.
If the minimum wage goes into effect without the corresponding funding increase through Medicaid, it could lead to a cut in services, an increase in caseload, and some organizations may have to close their doors if they can’t meet the wage requirements. It will likely result in more turnover if other industries are able to attract employees with added benefits and higher wages.
As we move into the future, we remain staunch supporters and advocates for our DSPs including their ability to earn a competitive wage. Opengate, along with other like-minded agencies and organizations, are actively lobbying the Governor to meet our requests for expanded Medicaid funding and higher minimum wages.