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Direct Support Professionals: Low Pay for High Responsibility

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BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -

Medication administration, grooming, wound care, and transportation are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the responsibilities of Direct Support Professionals. These individuals offer care to adults and children with disabilities to ensure safety and comfort in their day to day lives. Direct Support Professionals, or DSPs, currently earn an average wage of between $10 and $13 an hour, according to Achieve.

"None of us are here to get rich, but we don't want to have to work a second job or a third job," says Alyssa Keefe, Day Habilitation Specialist at Achieve.

According to a survey by the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition, job vacancy rates for DSP positions increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015, turnover rates rose 21% higher, and DSPs worked 13.5% more overtime hours to compensate for the vacant positions.

Those who stay, say they often work multiple jobs to pay the bills. Walking away from clients, who are like family, would be a difficult choice to make.

"It would be heartbreaking," says Keefe, "We spend more time with them than a lot of their families do sometimes and you get very attached."

These workers are agents of New York State. They want to see the state increase their pay and therefore the chances of staying in their profession. In an effort to prevent direct care workers from leaving their field, State Assembly members Clifford Crouch and Dona Lupardo are recommending money be set aside in the state budget to increase pay for DSPs. Moving into the state budget process, Lupardo and Crouch will notify Governor Cuomo of their recommendation.