Direct-Care Professionals Deserve More Respect, Better Treatment

Direct-care professionals have one of the hardest, most demanding jobs in New York; they work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of those who have difficulty caring for themselves. While they have watched Gov. Cuomo flaunt his support for criminals, fast-food workers and Hollywood elites, their wages have flat-lined, funding for their programs remains far shy of what’s needed and they must fight and scrap for recognition at every turn.
 
Members of our conference have continued to support the #bFair2DirectCare initiative, which has fought for more funding and better pay for direct-care professionals. Earlier this week, our conference held a press conference highlighting our "Budget Blueprint for a Better New York." Providing a fair wage for direct-care workers is on top of our list of priorities for the 2019-20 State Budget.
 
Without adequate funding, the disability community is at serious risk of a devastating labor shortage. Failing to adjust the pay of direct-care workers will put an enormous strain on the struggling industry and create an incentive for skilled and experienced workers to seek employment elsewhere. Simply put, they can make more money doing less by working in a less demanding field.
 
GOVERNOR’S LACK OF COMMITMENT IS APPALLING
 
Year after year, the governor has ignored calls to protect the state’s most vulnerable population. For once, he needs to get out ahead of a problem instead of reacting with haphazard, patch-work solutions. This is a problem with a simple answer; cut spending on wasteful, ineffective economic development programs and wage hikes for inmates and fund programs commensurate to the tremendous value they bring to their communities and to the rest of New York State.
 
One such program at risk is the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). It was specifically designed to give those in need of care the freedom and flexibility to have professionals of their choosing—one’s they trust to handle delicate and critical day-to-day tasks—in their homes looking after them. It is cost-effective, and more importantly, compassionate.
 
For many, the idea of waking up to any stranger, let alone one who has so much impact on their well-being, is frightening and unfair. These are very personal interactions and they should be treated as such. Cutting funding for CDPAP is unnecessary and contrary to the state’s responsibly to take care of those who live here and pay taxes.
 
Now is the time to begin to right these wrongs. The 2019-20 State Budget must include more funding to support a wage increase for direct-care workers and adequate funding for all the programs and services the disability community relies upon. Anything short of that is negligent and inexcusable.
 
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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