WXXI AM News

Rally for Direct Care Workers

Mar 11, 2016

Rallies were held Friday to remind lawmakers that while increasing the minimum wage is laudable, there also needs to be more money for state agencies so they can increase the wages of those who work with people with developmental disabilities.

At Pieters Family Life Center, Patrick McGrath, the executive director of Grace Community Center, relayed that message.

He says the front-line workers who serve those with developmental disabilities -- direct support professionals -- should also receive the $15-an-hour wage that's being proposed for minimum wage workers.

"For now, this is an unfunded mandate for us.  We're not getting any new funding to support this, so over time, this is really going to affect our bottom line and really put the services we provide at risk."

McGrath says he'd like to see a total of $270 million in state and federal monies put back into the budget to help agencies like his through this process.

Nonprofit agencies that care for those with developmental disabilities rely on Medicaid reimbursements to cover 90 percent of their expenses.

Rally at Pieters Family Life Center
Credit Alex Crichton

Jennifer Davis is a direct care professional, or DCP.

"I think it's only fair that people who provide these services and carry an enormous work load, not only serving these people that are in our care every day, but also the paperwork at the end of it, that's also extremely intense.  I think we deserve the $15 minimum."

Luther St. Joy  receives services at Lifetime Assistance, and he says direct support professionals help him maintain an independent life.

He says they also help his housemates with their basic needs, or grow into independence.

St. Joy says they all do an amazing job.

There's a social campaign on pay increases for direct care workers at #bFair2DirectCare

Patrick McGrath of Grace Community Services: