More funding agreed upon for those who care for developmentally disabled

Mar 15, 2017

The New York State Senate and Assembly are in agreement on a plan to increase funding for the care of the developmentally disabled.

Credit Karen Dewitt

The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly both included $45 million in additional funding in their chamber's proposed state budgets. The money would support pay raises for the direct support professionals who care for people with developmental disabilities.

Low pay has created high turnover and staffing shortages. Harvey Weisenberg, a former lawmaker and father of a disabled son, says some caregivers are so poorly paid they're choosing to work fast-food jobs instead.

Now supporters must convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who did not include the money in his own state budget proposal. A vote on the budget is expected by April 1.

Earlier this month, a group of disabled Western New Yorkers are among those who were arrested for protests in New York’s capitol.

Approximately 300 advocates for the disabled traveled to Albany seeking a meeting with the Governor’s office to talk about his promises to support the needs of the disabled in this year’s budget.

“We were basically told by the governor’s staff, 'There’s really nothing we can do. Come and see us about next year’s budget,’” said Todd Vaarwerk, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for WNY Independent Living. “We’re not talking about things that are minor issues. We’re talking about the things that relate to the health, safety and independence of people with disabilities.”