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Our Commitment to Advancing Our Workforce

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By Marisa Geitner

Our frontline employees, including direct support professionals, continue to be the bedrock of our organization. We have pushed to achieve again an increase in their compensation that continues to align with what they deserve for their contributions, this time to $17.25/hour for residential staff members, with opportunities to earn more. This is the second time in 15 months that we’ve boosted staff wages to exceed industry averages, and it’s another demonstration of our commitment to care professionals.

Beyond providing a wage commensurate for this important work, this is an important social justice issue as well.  Direct support professionals widely represent populations that are subjected to systemic inequities: the caregiving workforce in the U.S. is made up of 87% women, 57% people of color, and 27% immigrants. We must maintain strong advocacy to ensure these careers are no longer undervalued, and can be seen as competitive career options.

A recent report projects that from 2019 to 2029, the direct care workforce will add an estimated 1.3 million new jobs to meet rising demand, more new jobs than any other single occupation.  Care professionals should not have to expect poverty when choosing a caring career.

An above-minimum wage communicates how complex the work of a direct support professional is, and the skillset and compassion required to be successful. To promote retention and remain competitive with other employers outside of our industry, we need to provide compensation that rises above minimum requirements. More importantly, from a human standpoint, direct support professionals deserve far more than the minimum.

Governor Hochul and other state leaders have emerged as advocates for our industry, and we will continue to work with local, state and federal policymakers to increase recognition and respect of direct support professionals. They deserve a wage that reflects the hard work and unique skillset they bring to our agency, and how much the people we support rely on them.

This wage increase is just one piece of the important work we must do to recognize our frontline staff. Our agency will continue to push for support, equity and resources that will allow for the continued success of our care professionals.