HIGHER WAGES! Direct support starts at $15 and $15.75 +. LEARN MORE


Here at Heritage Christian we like to talk about big topics — and sometimes we have big ideas. In our posts, you'll see opinions and insights from employees and often from Marisa Geitner, our president and C.E.O. They will give you a glimpse into the kinds of things we’re wrestling with and the kinds of things we think are worth fighting for.

Read more from our guest blogger, Drew Bielemeier, senior vice president of operations. #StopTheCuts #RaiseTheWage #FundtheFuture

Our state leaders made decisions several years ago to increase wages for fast-food workers. We’d been working since before then to raise wages for our direct support workforce – first, for their self-sufficiency, and second, to stay competitive in the labor marketplace – but the gap has only widened. This year, we increased our minimum wage for frontline care professionals so that no one starts below $15 an hour, and yet the challenges of wage and reimbursement shortfalls have been exacerbated these 18 months of the pandemic.

We need your voice and your advocacy. Contact state leaders right away with the following:

#StopTheCuts – Providers like Heritage Christian Services experience financial cuts when a person is hospitalized, when families bring their children home weekends and when it takes time to fill an opening after someone passes away. There shouldn’t be pressures and penalties for illness or when families want to be together, nor should people-counts be valued above relationships and right-fit settings.

#FundTheFuture – For more than a decade, providers like HCS have not been able to count on a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). That makes it difficult to plan and provide essential services. The industry needs an annual COLA, and for it to be standardized in ways that it can’t be deferred.

#RaiseTheWage – In NYS, 90% of human services professionals are women. Our region has some of the most impoverished areas in the country and we know that single moms are struggling here. We can’t address poverty if we’re not promoting self-sufficiency in women-majority industries.

We won’t pretend that all solutions are easy, but the urgency is great. To underscore the crisis around wage, let’s not forget that our poverty rates in Rochester and Buffalo are consistently around 30%. In Rochester, a majority of people living below self-sufficiency include households headed by women. At Heritage Christian Services, similar to other providers, women make up 80% of our workforce. Wage gaps and budget shortfalls converge as a force keeping women and their dependents in poverty.

Furthermore, in the field of human services, Black women make up more than half of the workforce. We, too, employ hundreds of women who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People Of Color (BIPOC). The way our state prioritizes the essential contributions of professional caregivers – many who are Black women living below a level of self-sufficiency – plays a key role in perpetuating gender and race inequities. This has to stop.

We, as a society, want direct support staff to stay in jobs that they love. We thank them. We need their compassionate care and support of children, people with disabilities and older adults. Let’s advance care professionals and offer the respect and recognition they deserve. For ways to contact state decisionmakers, visit HeritageChristianServices.org/advocacy-disabilities. #RaiseTheWage #StopTheCuts #FundTheFuture


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