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Group that serves people with disabilities at staffing ‘crisis point’

A statewide group that provides services to people with developmental disabilities is calling on lawmakers to take action to address what they say is a severe staffing shortage and pay inequities.

“We're at a crisis point, really, we're unable to hire and retain people into these positions,” said Wendy McCarthy, executive director of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York, or DDAWNY.

She said the developmental disabilities service system is in an emergency because of the inability to recruit and retain direct support professionals.

McCarthy said between 40% and 65% percent of staff members are women of color, and they represent the backbone of the system. They are frequently the head of their household, she added.

“We believe that people who are working in these positions should be earning a wage where they can sustain themselves and help move them out of poverty," she said.

Several local lawmakers joined McCarthy at a news conference Tuesday. McCarthy wants the delegation to get a message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the staffing issues, and what she called unfair pay for people of color and women.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.