Advocating for direct care workers

March 23, 2017 11:46 PM

SCHENECTADY - Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D - Rotterdam) has been advocating for better access for those with developmental disabilities since he discovered his son, Michael was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.

"He's 15 now and I can tell you first hand that Schenectady ARC, Wildwood School, Living Resources, all of these services- his independence continues to improve year after year," Santabarbara explained.

Advertisement – Content Continues Below

But those services could cease to exist.

Direct care workers haven't had a raise since 2008.

On average, there is a 10-15% vacancy rate for positions that assit those with developmental disabilities across the state and the turnover at Schenectady ARC is even higher.

"These are not minimum-wage jobs these are people who we train them for four weeks before they start working, they learn CPR, they learn behavior management skills, so we're asking a lot of them," Kirk Lewis said, Schenectady ARC Executive Director.

The starting salary for a DSP or Direct Support Professional at ARC is $10 an hour.

Not nearly enough Lewis says to supplement todays cost of living.

"They are losing good workers to other jobs and continuity of care is so important," Kelly Schultz explained. 

Schultz has cerebral palsy.

She needs assistance with dressing, personal care and getting to medical appointments and when someone doesn't show up for their shift, it takes away from her basic needs.

"Staff shortages affect my life and affect the lives of others," Schultz added.

The Assembly and Senate have both included $45 million dollars in their budgets.

Now, the pressure is on the Governor to approve it by the April 1st deadline.

To watch the entire live stream of "BFair2DirectCare," click here.


Karen Tararache

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company