Labor shortage affects people with disabilities

SCHENECTADY – Bill Churchman’s son Brandon is in a Schenectady ARC residential program.

"My major concern is does he feel safe, does he feel cared for," said Churchman. "That’s there. But for him to be happy, and you can just tell in his demeanor — he’s relaxed, he’s bright when he’s got other things going on besides kind of maintenance. So I have no complaints, but I know his life could be much better if we had more staff."

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Schenectady ARC wants and needs more direct support professionals, or DSPs, the caregivers who work with people in every aspect of their lives. Other similar organizations are in the same boat.

Those who are working, are working harder and doing more.

Not having enough staff limits what the ARC can offer. Some day programs have not been reopened, for example.

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Schenectady and other ARCs are holding a statewide job fair on September 23.

You can access the job fair in your area here.

"With schools settling and families knowing what their children are doing, with the enhanced unemployment benefits coming to an end, and with people wanting to get back to some kind of normal, that’s why we’re doing this job fair," said Schenectady ARC’s Kirk Lewis. "We have the opportunity to get you a different kind of job that’ll fit, maybe you’ve got a different schedule now."

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Churchman says he knows his son’s basic needs are being met, but like any father, he wants more for him.

"Quality of life is important, and we have a risk of losing that for a lot of people."