Assemblymember Rivera and Sen. Ryan Recognize Crucial Cost-of-Living Adjustment for Direct Support Professionals

State budget provides a 5.4% cost-of-living adjustment to allow providers like People, Inc. to retain staff and offer better wages to those who provide essential services

Hamburg – Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera, State Sen. Sean Ryan, Hamburg Town Supervisor Randy Hoak and representatives from both People Inc. and Developmental Disabilities Alliance of WNY today recognized a critical and well-deserved cost-of-living adjustment for direct support professionals (DSP) and the not-for-profit organizations that employ them.

The 2022-23 NYS budget includes a 5.4% cost-of-living adjustment for DSPs, and human services providers such as People Inc. are set to get their first cost-of-living adjustment in 11 years. The funding will be crucial for providers like People, Inc. to retain staff, offer better wages to those who do such essential work, and better address rising inflationary expenses.

Direct Support Professionals work tirelessly each day to provide care and support to the intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) community. They work in homes, schools, and in the community as mentors and advocates who dedicate their time to supporting individuals with disabilities. They often carry out healthcare tasks overseen by nurses and dietitians, administering medication, developing meal plans, and assisting with transportation and mobility.

Despite the indefatigable work, chronic underfunding for the IDD community poses a grave threat to the sector’s ability to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers. The high demands of the job are evident, yet DSPs currently earn only slightly more than the minimum wage. This low pay is forcing these essential workers to look for other jobs. As a result, currently 25% of these jobs are vacant, and people with IDD are left without the support they need. 

According to a recent survey conducted by New York Disability Advocates: 

  • 93% of providers saw a decrease in job applicants this past year
  • Statewide vacancy rates increased 75% since pre-pandemic levels
  • 48% of providers were forced to close or reduce programs due to a lack of staff

While the governor’s 2022-23 New York State budget includes a cost-of-living increase of 5.4% and a one-time bonus payment of $3,000 for DSPs, more support is necessary. Without immediate action, the DSP workforce crisis will continue to force service reductions and program closures throughout the state, leaving individuals with IDD without their professional support assistance.

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “The cost-of-living adjustment and bonus payments provided by the governor’s 2022-23 state budget are terrific first steps in combatting the ongoing staffing crisis faced by the DSP and IDD communities across the state. As legislators, we must now prioritize finding permanent solutions that will produce sustainability for a workforce that provides the IDD community with the critical support they need to live long and fulfilling lives.”

State Sen. Sean Ryan said, “Home care workers and other direct support professionals are lifelines for some of New York’s most vulnerable citizens. However, due to the industry’s worsening worker gap, more and more members of the intellectual and developmental disability community are at risk of going without essential care. The inclusion of a cost-of-living adjustment and bonus for DSPs in this year’s state budget was an important action to help reverse the declining staffing levels and ensure that all New Yorkers are able to access the support they need.”

Hamburg Town Supervisor Randy Hoak said, “Direct Support Professionals have been underpaid for far too long. The governor has taken a bold first step in addressing the inequity of our health and home care systems. These professionals are essential to the people they serve and should be paid a fair wage for the very complex and demanding work that they do. The Governor's increase of 5.4% is a big win for families across New York State.”

Rhonda Frederick, President and CEO of People Inc., and President of DDAWNY said, “We are so grateful to Assemblymember Rivera, Senator Ryan, our WNY delegation, and the governor. For several years we have been stating the case that we need more funding for our workforce and the more than 50 agencies like People Inc. that are part of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western NY (DDAWNY).We are lucky to have the state-elected officials we do, and especially a Governor that comes from WNY.”