March 24, 2022

Rally in Albany Promotes Fair Wages for Direct Support Professionals

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Person Centered Services is always ready to advocate for those we serve! On March 24th, disability rights advocates gathered to rally in Albany for more fair and just wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our Community Relations Manager Alan Venesky was grateful to attend the rally alongside Max Donatelli and BJ Stasio from our Family, Individual and Caregiver Advisory Board (FICAB) Committee.

“This rally was an important opportunity to show Governor Kathy Hochul and our legislators how much DSPs matter,” says Alan Venesky. “We were excited to raise our voices for a critical cause.”

The rally, hosted by New York Disabilities Advocates (NYSDA), called for New York State to adopt the Assembly’s proposed 11% cost-of-living adjustment for DSPs. Advocates also asked that this action be considered the first step towards a multi-year plan that will provide sufficient funding for DSPs to earn a living wage.

Direct Support Professionals work tirelessly to provide care and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, yet they remain underpaid and undervalued. As a result, 25% of DSP jobs are vacant statewide, leaving vulnerable New Yorkers without the care they desperately need.

State leaders recognize how dire the DSP workforce crisis has become. Senator John W. Mannion and New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld attended the NYDSA rally in person, highlighting its importance.

“It was an honor to see our officials there,” says Venesky. “It shows just how key the issue of DSP wages is for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

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FICAB Members BJ Stasio (pictured left) and Max Donatelli (pictured to the right of Stasio) spoke at the rally. They revealed how the DSP workforce crisis has impacted their lives and the lives of those they care about. Stasio was accompanied by Jim and Debbie Dolinski, two DSPs who provide him with essential care.

While in Albany, Stasio, a long-time disability rights activist, was also recognized for his upcoming induction into the National Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. Senator Mannion and Commissioner Neifeld presented him with a certificate honoring his accomplishments.

“We are so proud to partner with advocates like BJ who help improve care, connections, and opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” says Venesky. “He truly deserves the honor he is receiving.”

Join disability rights advocates today in calling on New York State to support our DSPs. Reach out to Governor Hochul in support of much needed wage increases for those who provide direct assistance to vulnerable people in our state using a quick and simple advocacy tool.

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