If anyone understands the difficulty of being a direct support professional, it’s David Irish. Irish’s daughter has Autism and Cerebral Palsy. She requires around the clock assistance from Direct Support Professionals at the ARC of Monroe, but he says low salaries prevents any one worker from taking care of his daughter consistently.
“It’s been a struggle. You constantly have someone new coming into provide the service and yes everything is written down for what they’re supposed to do, but they don’t know the individual, they don’t know what their preferences are,” said Irish.
But now, he says he no longer has to worry about those issues after a new state budget was passed this weekend. Direct Support Professionals will see salary hikes. This year, $55.5 million will be funded to increase salaries for direct care workers and then an additional $90 million starting the next year. For Irish, any little bit helps.
“I’m thrilled that the state legislature and the Governor finally agreed to put some money in the state budget so folks who do this work can be paid at the level they should be paid,” said Irish.
The funding is designed to adjust salaries at not-for-profits that employ workers who provide services for those with disabilities. Prior to the passing of this new budget, workers were making minimum wage.
“The work that they do is very very important and key,” said Hilda Rosario Escher, President and CEO of the Ibero American Action League in Rochester.
She says her organization was greatly affected by low wages and was constantly losing members. She’s thrilled to now be able to fix that with the help of this new budget.
“It’s good for us because it will help us to keep those direct support professionals rather than have them go and pursue a job somewhere else,” said Rosario Escher.