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Politics and Government

Mannion: Worker shortage for people with developmental disabilities 'dire'

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Ellen Abbott
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WRVO Public Media file photo
State Sen. John Mannion (D-Syracuse)

Central New York state Sen. John Mannion (D-Syracuse) is spearheading an effort to urge the state to deal with a serious workforce shortage of the people who care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Staffing challenges have been an issue for years in New York, but Mannion now calls the situation dire.

"The system is breaking. We don’t have the people to do the work,” said Mannion. “And it’s because as we’ve had an increase in minimum wage, their wages have been stagnant, so people are leaving the profession and it’s harder to recruit people."

According to statewide statistics, The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities has lost 3,700, or 16% of direct support workers in the last 10 years. That’s led to 3,000 fewer beds for individuals, and it means families now wait years for residential treatment options.

Mannion said the workforce issues that have been simmering over the last decade, have reached a boiling point.

“What we’re hearing is awful scenarios where people aren’t going to their therapies, they’re not going to day programs,” he said. “Day programs have shut down because we just don’t have the people to do it.”

Mannion, who chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Disabilities, said he’s reached out to Gov. Kathy Hochul about funding these programs fully. He’s optimistic there will be action from the executive branch.

“There are certain aspects of programs in the state which she has already acknowledged are important and we have to support them, including child care. We think this care is parallel to it."