Supporters of caregivers for people with developmental disabilities are calling for a long-term wage increase for those workers as a final state budget could include a cost-of-living adjustment and one-time bonuses for a field that has struggled to retain people. 

At issue for advocates of people with developmental disabilities is the ongoing effort to secure a wage increase. Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposed $216 billion spending plan includes a cost-of-living increase of 5.4% and a one-time bonus payment of $3,000. 

But advocates are calling those proposals a first step in what should be a multi-year plan to increase pay for direct service providers, known as DSPs. 

“Being a DSP is not easy work comparatively, but it is critical and life-preserving for the people with IDD that they support,” said James Moran, the CEO of Care Design New York“While there is more to be done in future budgets, the current campaign is only the first step in financially recognizing DSPs as the essential workers they are. We look forward to working with Gov. Hochul and the New York State Legislature to ensure that DSPs are ultimately provided a living wage, one that they so rightfully deserve to support themselves and their families.”

Supporters of the broader wage push on Monday unveiled an advocacy website meant to allow New Yorkers to register their support for the move. 

“We all support giving our essential healthcare workers like DSPs and other professional caregivers more money, but a one-time bonus is not a long-term solution – we have to permanently raise wages,” said Democratic state Sen. John Mannion. “Families across New York are counting on these services for their loved ones - better pay will be critical to recruit and retain workers and help stave off facility and program closures."

The wage boost is just one provision under consideration by state lawmakers. On Monday, Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre introduced a measure meant to give direct care providers a tax credit. 

"Direct Support Professionals are on the frontlines working tirelessly to provide care and support to our intellectual and developmental disability community every single day, but chronic underfunding for this vital sector poses a grave threat to our ability to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” she said. “This legislation will provide a much-needed boost in pay to these essential workers and help bolster the DSP workforce across New York state, and I am looking forward to working with our provider associations and my colleagues in the Legislature to see it through to fruition."