TU: Direct Care Workers Demand Funding, Citing Cuomo's Women's Agenda

NYAPRS Note: Actions by advocates for the human services nonprofit workforce and agencies are intensifying, including a host of statewide public demonstrations over the last few weeks and a recent letter to Governor Cuomo from over 2,000 women who work in the sector. The letter also calls for the rejection of changes to the landmark Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) proposed by the Administration that will disrupt care for tens of thousands of people. 

Both of these will be top issues at tomorrow’s NYAPRS Annual Albany Legislative Day.

Direct Care Workers Demand Funding, Citing Cuomo's Women's Agenda

81% of workforce is female, letter states

By Rachel Silberstein  Albany Times Union  February 22, 2019

ALBANY — More than 2,000 women who work in New York's non-profit human services sector signed an open letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week seeking more funding of their work helping people who are homeless, disabled or have behavioral health needs.

Calling for the reinstatement of three funding streams that supplement salaries and overhead expenses for human services agencies, a coalition of advocates, including #bFair2DirectCare organizers, charge that their largely female workforce has been left out of the governor's 2019 Women's Agenda.

If the governor wants to be true to women in this state, pay a living wage to the direct support professionals who are on the front lines," said Rhonda Frederick, president of Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York. "How wonderful of a statement it would be if the governor backed up his Women's Agenda and the idea of economic justice by paying a living wage to 70,000 female DSPs statewide.."

The letter points to Cuomo's Executive Budget proposal, which again eliminates the cost-of-living adjustment for non-profits, known as COLA. It also recommends changes to the landmark Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) that advocates say will disrupt care for tens of thousands of people. The proposal also does not fund the next phase of a living-wage increment for direct care workers.

With the recent increases to New York's minimum wage, human service agencies say they are facing a staffing crisis because workers are migrating to less demanding low-wage jobs.

Cuomo's office last week unveiled its 2019 "Women's Agenda," which includes measures seeking equitable pay and proposals to curb sexual harassment.

In 2017, Cuomo and the Legislature included the first two years of a six-year plan to provide a living wage for direct care workers.

This year, the state is facing a $2.3 billion budget shortfall and the governor is seeking to close the gap through cuts to Medicaid and other programs. Cuomo's office did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.

Human service agencies in New York have not had a cost-of-living increase for more than a decade, according to Ellen Pendegar, chair of New York's Mental Health Association.

"Cuomo has been a leader in the cause of both women's rights and the community workforce," Pendegar said. "By supporting a 2.9 percent COLA, the governor continues to pave the way as a national leader in the women's agenda and in support of New York's most vulnerable citizens."