The shortage of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and the living wage issues are a “public health crisis.” “If we do not have enough qualified staff, then we cannot provide quality support to people with disabilities” according to the ANCOR report Addressing the Disability Services Workforce Crisis of the 21st Century.
As a nation, we expect the very best care for our loved ones, however, those who are trusted to give that care are often invisible and underpaid. Not only agencies who serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities are suffering hardships, but also affected are assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and child care centers who rely on DSPs for qualified care.
Opengate and similar agencies are constantly recruiting, hiring and training the best qualified professionals to fill the vacancies left by those who leave for other opportunities. This process is costly for the agency as well as disruptive to our individuals and their care.
When staffing is short another DSP must work extra shifts in order to be in compliance with regulations set forth. Without enough time off for rest, and spending time with their own families, DSPs are headed towards job burnout which is another reason for losing competent workers and continuing the cycle of recruiting, hiring, and training, and the expense to the agency in overtime pay.
Vacancy rates, turnover rates, and overtime hours have increased dramatically over a short few years due to lack of funding which fosters a cycle of crisis we must find a way to stop.
How do we put a plug in these burdensome expenses and still allow for the best care possible for our individuals?
Of course, we feel DSPs deserve a living wage and have been on the front lines of supporting the efforts in New York State to make better wages a reality, however, we are seeing the consequences of wage competitions we are not able to match from the business, retail, and restaurant sectors.
Often overlooked is higher level training, available advances in technology, and incentives to retain DSPs who are qualified and have an interest in developing their career. DSPs represent an ethnic and gender diversity that’s not often seen in other professions. All DSPs should be offered incentives such as progressive education, benefits, and credentials to attract and retain them in a permanent position and funding should be in place to allow.
When funding cutbacks occur, and living wages aren’t met, agencies must rely heavily on financial contributions from families and other donors. Opengate is fortunate to have caring family members who have seen us through for 50 years, but the time has come when they shouldn’t be burdened with additional subsidies.
We at Opengate hope that every citizen of New York State will join us in facilitating the demand of providing a living wage for all Direct Support Professionals.
We fully supported the efforts and achievements of grassroots initiatives by #BFair2DirectCare who have taken their voice to social media as well as events and rallies held around the state in support of DSPs and individuals with disabilities. To learn more about how you can become personally involved refer to this link: http://www.bfair2directcare.com/#home
Tell Governor Cuomo to #bFair2DirectCare!
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal fails to include the funding necessary to give Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) a fair, living wage.
Encourage Governor Cuomo to correct this omission and add the #bFair2DirectCare living wage funding in his budget proposal!