AccessCNY Applauds Governor’s Agreement to Be Fair to Direct Care

After months of advocacy by AccessCNY and other agencies across the state, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has agreed to wage increases for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) that work with individuals with disabilities. The Be Fair to Direct Care campaign sought funding to implement a living wage for staff of nonprofit organizations whose work is difficult and who haven’t had a significant salary increase in eight years.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday the Governor wrote, “We will ‪#bFair2DirectCare. I will not sign the budget unless there is $55M for Direct Care Professionals.” The Governor reiterated this commitment to a crowd at the State Capitol that included DSPs and individuals with disabilities.

Over the last nine months agencies across the state held rallies and advocacy efforts to share the important work performed by DSPs. In New York state over 125,000 people with disabilities depend on DSPs to live, work and learn as part of their communities.

Emily Sherman is a Self-Advocate who has benefited from AccessCNY services. “The staff that I have worked with taught me how to be more independent and that makes me feel I can do anything. They found me a job that fits me perfectly and now I have more confidence in myself. Staff are really the best at their jobs and I’m glad the Governor sees that too.”

“We are delighted that the Governor and Legislative leaders have agreed to add $55 million to the budget to support a living wage for DSPs,” said Paul Joslyn, Executive Director of AccessCNY. “The work of DSPs is vital to our community.  A living wage will mean more people with disabilities will get the support they need and that more than 500 DSPs employed by AccessCNY will get the wage they deserve. We want to thank our local state delegation including Senators DeFrancisco and Valesky and Assemblymembers Finch, Hunter, Magnarelli and Stirpe for their support of a living wage.”

The Be Fair campaign requested $45 million over five years to support a living wage for DSPs. The added $10 million expected in this year’s budget allows agencies that support people with mental health and substance abuse issues to also benefit from the increase.

The state budget is due on April 1.

Photo Caption: In February AccessCNY traveled to the State Capitol to deliver over 500 letters to the Governor and State Representatives in support of the Be Fair to Direct Care campaign. Pictured (L to R) are AccessCNY Self-Advocates Mikey St. Andrew, Bobby Fehringer and Emily Sherman with AccessCNY employee Jess E.

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