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Politics and Government

State dedicates more funds for employees who work with disabled

ACCESS CNY Executive Director Paul Joslyn, board member Virginia Felleman and state Sen. Dave Valesky.

One of the new items in the New York state budget is money to help non-profit agencies give raises to employees who work with the disabled. Last month, the governor promised $55 million to help avoid an employment crisis is this sector.

Low pay for direct care workers became an issue after the state increased the minimum wage. Agencies like AccessCNY saw turnover skyrocket leaving more and more vacancies, as employees turned to fast food or other jobs that offered comparable pay, without the stress of a direct care job.

AccessCNY Executive Director Paul Joslyn says it took a comprehensive campaign to get the ears of Albany to act on the crisis.

"It’s been a nine-month process where people with disabilities and their families traveled to Albany to speak with legislators; wrote letters; many made many phone calls. And it just took a while especially for the governor to hear our concern,” said Joslyn.

Joslyn warns though this is not the end of the issue. As the minimum wage continues to rise, Albany will need to come through with cash to help in future budgets as well, because the state provides the biggest source of income for agencies like AccessCNY.

“Whenever the state is going to change wages, and make wages unfair to folks, then they’re going to have to step up and make sure that people who support people with disabilities are treated fairly as well.”