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Advocacy

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Get involved and take action

Voice your concern. Lack of funds will harm people and impede provider ability to offer essential services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Lawmakers need to know the disruption budget cuts are causing families and businesses that provide support. These are federal and state issues, and we need our voices to be heard. Please contact your representatives and help them see the impact on families.

Advocacy is needed to #StopTheCuts.  We are calling on New York State to immediately pass and implement Assembly Bill A.8109 which would sustain reimbursements for residential habilitation services and prevent cuts proposed by OPWDD. These cuts will be retroactive to May 1, 2021, and their impact will be devastating when a person is hospitalized, when parents or family members bring their loved one home for overnights and when someone passes away.

Next, we need #RaiseTheWage for the direct support workforce and #FundTheFuture for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Direct support professionals work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to support them as they live and work in their communities. People who choose a career that directly supports the health and well-being of others deserve to earn a wage that allows them self-sufficiency. For more than a decade, agencies like ours have not been able to count on a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) from New York State. The number of years that we have not received a COLA have far outnumbered the years that we have, making it difficult for us to plan and budget as we provide essential services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are asking that NYS institute an annual 3% annual COLA – the same type of increase that the state gives to other sectors- and to codify it so that it cannot be deferred. We ask that the commitment be made for the next five years, so that agencies can plan and budget accordingly. The COLA will allow agencies like Heritage Christian to continue to raise wages for the direct support workforce.

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has received a one-time allotment of Federal Medicate Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, estimated to be around $740 million. We are requesting that these funds be released to agencies like Heritage Christian to be used for staff wages and bonuses, and to invest in the infrastructure of residential homes and physical properties for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so that they are fully accessible and can continue to meet the needs of an aging population.

Help Share the Importance of the Services Your Loved One May Receive and the Part That Direct Support Roles Play In Those Services

Please urge lawmakers to:
(1) Stop the budget cuts by immediately pass and implement Assembly Bill A.8109
and
(2) Raise direct support wages and fund the future by NYS instituting an annual 3% annual COLA and codifying it so that it cannot be deferred and immediately releasing FMAP funds to agencies like Heritage Christian Services to be used for staff wages and bonuses and infrastructure investments.

In addition, Heritage Christian Services supports initiatives that:

  • Enhance the opportunity for diverse, inclusive, equitable community experiences rich with meaningful relationships
  • Ensure introduction and access to high-quality care professionals
  • Increase the number of people who have meaningful employment in our community
  • Increase access to accessible, affordable, quality housing
  • Improve the availability and quality of transportation services

Together, we will ensure a community that respects the work of our agency and care professionals. With that respect, we will elevate our advocacy to ensure our legislators and funders make the necessary adjustments to support quality services and the funding of a sustainable wage for care professionals.

Your Advocacy Matters

Care professionals are the familiar faces working in group residences, hospitals, nursing homes and in-home care who we trust to support our loved ones when we cannot be there. Even with medical professionals assessing and designing care plans, without our frontline support professionals, these plans simply remain on paper. Plans of care are lived out by the hands and hearts that support the person in each step of their daily routine.

Care professionals perform some of the most important work in our communities. They are also parents, students, and people who want to make a difference in the lives of those they support. Our society depends on people working in these roles to support our community members, often at times of greatest need; as such, human services continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. People in care roles are required to be skilled professionals with specific training and education, and yet many of them cannot financially take care of their own families because of the low wages associated with their jobs. It is essential that care professionals be able to earn a livable, sustainable wage. They deserve it.  We all need to work together to increase the respect and wages of care professionals.

As we continue to advocate for care professionals like direct support staff, we would like to share your stories that illustrate the importance of this work. We will use these stories to demonstrate the need for change.  If you have a personal example that you can share, please complete the form below.

Advocacy Stories