For readers who aren’t familiar with the social media hashtag #bFair2DirectCare, it’s become the voice of a campaign for 130,000 New Yorkers with intellectual/developmental disabilities and nearly 100,000 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who care for them.
The coalition is used as a call to action in the NY legislature to lobby for DSPs to receive a living wage for the work they do. If you’re a resident of NY, we encourage you to join with us in contacting your legislators. It’s as easy as clicking the following link to a list of districts and elected officials: http://www.elections.ny.gov/district-map/district-map.html
Even though a wage increase for DSPs was passed by the Governor earlier this year (after nearly 8 years), what’s now at stake is funding allocated to make up the difference for the increase in individual agency budgets.
The final 2017-18 NYS budget included a $55 million appropriation to take effect December 31, 2017 (so the current state fiscal year) and another one of $55 million to take effect in April 1, 2018 (ie, not until the following fiscal year). This amounts to a two-year commitment to help bring DSPs towards a living wage.
So, you see, the work is not done and we must ensure the upcoming 2018 budget, which will be decided in March, will include the $55 million appropriation to continue funding the wage increase for our DSPs.
As we’ve reported in several past articles, DSPs perform vital primary care for our individuals including administering medications, giving first aid and CPR, de-escalating dangerous situations, behavioral intervention, and providing for the safety of those they support.
Not only do DSPs provide daily care for our individuals, but they must also comply with all regulations, emergency procedures, and mounds of paperwork required for regulatory compliance and Medicaid billing.
Most DSPs in New York are paid between $10-$13 per hour for all they are required to do. Agencies like Opengate are in competition with big box or fast food stores who pay more and are able to raise the price of their product to compensate the difference.
Our mission is always to put our people first, and that includes providing consistent, competent caregivers who take pride in their work and take pleasure in their accomplishments. As we strive to offer more programs and services for our individuals, we must also improve the position of Direst Service Professionals with high standards, competitive wages, and a rewarding career choice.
#bFair2DirectCare holds rallies across the state to bring awareness of the issue to the public and directly contacts State legislators. Everyone can become involved in their campaigns.
Their social media activity can be seen on Facebook and Twitter and we urge you to follow, share, and tweet their posts. Their increase in reach and engagement becomes our way to show support for DSPs all over the state, and more specifically, our Opengate staff.
#bFair2DirectCare Website: http://www.bfair2directcare.com/home/