HOST INTRO: Parents, advocates and politicians rallied in downtown Brooklyn to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to increase state funding for developmental disability organizations. Here’s Rebecca Scott with the story.
TOM ACLIVATI: Be fair to direct care! Be fair to direct care!
SCOTT: It’s a sunny morning at Saint Francis College and a crowd has gathered to support BFair2DirectCare, a coalition fighting to secure a living wage for workers who serve New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. The group is asking Governor Andrew Cuomo to set aside $45 million in the 2017 state budget so that direct service providers can be paid fairly. Senator Marty Goldman says that Governor Cuomo is ignoring direct service providers in favor of other industries.
MARTY GOLDEN: If the governor can fight for fast food workers, the governor can definitely fight for our direct care workers and developmentally disabled families.
SCOTT: There are approximately 128,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities and many of them rely on the aid of direct service providers. But workers are increasingly leaving the industry in favor of jobs that offer better wages. Assemblyman Peter Abbate called this an “economic injustice.”
PETER ABBATE: Year after year, the work that you do sustaining the lives of so many people and you can’t sustain your own life. That’s not fair.
SCOTT: Frank Cena, the father of a 32-year-old with Down Syndrome, said that Governor Cuomo fails to appreciate the importance of the care provided by Direct Support Professionals. He said that working with direct care providers has given his daughter new confidence. Without them, their family would struggle to meet her basic needs.
FRANK CENA: Who will cut their food? Who will deliver long-term medicines? Who will clean their incontinence? Who will calm them in the twilight hours? Who will care for the clients with end stage dementia?
SCOTT: The direct service industry has a high turnover rate due to low wages and long hours. Cena said that it can be stressful to screen new workers.
FRANK CENA: To constantly recruit and train replacements, our people do really suffer when bonds are suddenly and forever broken with my staff.
SCOTT: Without the money BFair2DirectCare is requesting, people aiding families like Frank will struggle to make ends of their own meet.
Rebecca Scott, Columbia Radio News