The Department of Human Services is hosting their annual Listening Session on Friday, December 1st, and this is our first opportunity to publicly weigh in with decision-makers about the need to increase wages for Direct Support Professionals in the FY19 Budget. The Listening Session will be held in Trenton, but you don’t have to appear in person to have your voice heard. You can simply email your testimony by the above mentioned date to have your comments accepted and considered. Here’s a sample of what you can say.
Dear Acting Commissioner Connolly,
The FY18 Budget included $20 million for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in the community. Although the Budget was signed by the Governor in July, the funding for DSPs has not yet been released to the workforce who need it. Please distribute the funds earmarked for DSPs in the FY18 Budget as soon as possible.
The appropriation in FY18 was a great first step, but more funding is needed to ensure a solid workforce is in place. As you look ahead and plan for the FY19 Budget, I urge you to include a rate increase that will amount to a $1.25 more an hour for DSPs who support people with I/DD.
The success of the service delivery system depends on DSPs. People with I/DD can’t live an integrated life in the community without them. Because of the very low wages, it’s very hard to find DSPs, and the turnover rate of staff is incredibly challenging. The state must ensure people with I/DD have a consistent and dependable workforce and that can only happen by increasing wages. Please include the needed funding to address this issue in the FY19 Budget.