Learn more about our Homes with Heart capital campaign at HCSHeart.org

Supporting The Care Workers Who Care For Us  

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By Marisa Geitner

Provider agencies continue to grapple with the ongoing staffing crisis, as decades of poorly funded rates, which have led to lower wages, have discouraged people from an otherwise rewarding line of work. Last year, according to New York Disability Advocates, 38% of nonprofit providers across the state were forced to reduce program offerings or services due to staffing shortages. Unfortunately, the 1.5% cost of living increase (COLA) and lack of a direct support wage enhancement (DWSE) in the 2025 proposed state budget isn’t enough to turn this trend around.

Many direct support workers might have to support people in the most personal ways, from supporting them with hygiene to administering medications. They need to possess strong communication skills, and must become familiar with ever-changing care guidelines and technology.

A direct support worker may become very close to the people they care for. As a result, they need to form a close relationship with the person’s family members as well. Building that level of trust with the person and their loved ones can take time, which is why staff retention is crucial for provider agencies. It’s one thing to recruit staff, but it’s another to keep them so they can build and maintain these relationships.

At Heritage Christian, we work hard to redirect resources to raise the base wage for our frontline care professionals, raising the wage in our residential programs three times over the past two and a half years. However, we cannot fund the wage alone.  Our rates must increase to meet the demand of cost of living as well as course correcting years of underfunded services.

You can make your support known by making a call to the governor’s office (518-474-8390).  Tell them that the governor must support a direct support wage enhancement and a sufficient cost of living adjustment. Ask your acquaintances to do the same. Every voice counts!