It Matters to Me

"It Matters to Me" Advocacy Campaign

To bring attention to critical issues affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, and providers and staff dedicated to serving them, Chapters of NYSARC, Inc. are working on a grassroots advocacy campaign. The purpose is to share the personal, compelling stories and circumstances of concerned staff, people supported, and families on the issues that matter most to them.

Key campaign issues include:

  • Residential housing for people with I/DD living at home with aging caregivers
  • Employment
  • Wages
  • School to work transitional services for young adults with I/DD

To learn more about the campaign, please click here

#ItMattersToMe

We need your help!

It is critical that the State Budget for the year beginning on April 1, 2016 include funding to address the need for support in the following areas: fair compensation for our frontline staff, providing choice and opportunity for employment in our community, and residential housing options for people with I/DD living at home with aging caregivers.

Please join us in our advocacy efforts so that the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are in the forefront of our Legislators minds.  We urge you to write a letter to the Governor asking for his support through increased funding in the budget.  

Tell the Governor your story as it relates to staff wages, development of residential opportunities, and/or employment. 

After you write your letter, please encourage others who are affected by this issue to also join you in writing the Governor. 

 


Watch this video, produced by NYSARC, Inc., which highlights the key issues of the "It Matters To Me" grassroots advocacy campaign:

 


Wages:


"As a Direct Support Professional with The Arc of Chemung, the topic of wages matters a great deal to me because it's not just about money.  It's about people.  President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “With great privilege comes great responsibility.”  Those of us who come into the world without mental, emotional or physical hurdles to overcome already enjoy great privilege.   And we have a responsibility to help those who need an extra hand.  

My job is to help people achieve their fullest potential – at home, at school or work – and in their community.  Our community.  I advocate for them so they can be safe, healthy and happy, and so they can contribute to their world.  Sometimes that means helping someone get dressed.  Or make a meal.  Or bathe. Or go to the grocery store.  Sometimes it means helping them manage their bus schedule or go to work, or maybe volunteer at the Library.  Direct Support Professionals must continually be trained and certified to provide the highest level of care, according to strict state and federal guidelines.  A DSP’s job can be demanding, but it’s also rewarding life’s work that really matters and it deserves a pay rate that matches the great responsibility involved.   

Ironically, as we speak, New York’s government is exploring raising minimum wages for the food service industry to $15 an hour because those employees can’t make a decent living on minimum wage.  That’s a fact.  It’s also a fact that DSP’s, who take care of human beings – not cheeseburgers – are also just getting by financially because our wages are near the national poverty level.  Like myself, many work more than one job to make ends meet.  As a result, we are quickly burning out and moving on - the turnover rate for DSP's is alarmingly high.  Unlike the local burger joint, we can’t pass the higher cost of living on to customers to make up our losses.  We can’t automate the services we provide to generate higher profits.  When it comes to wages, we have to work with what the state gives us, and currently that amount is insufficient to keep quality DSP’s on the job.  Those same highly trained, quality staff may soon be shipping out to serve McMeals down the street for a much higher wage – and who could blame them? 

Where does that leave the people we serve?  Isn’t that what really matters?  It matters to me."

Sandy Swan, Direct Support Professional at The Arc of Chemung 


"The DSP field is a highly rewarding field in many ways. Being able to get to spend time with our individuals we support and get to know their likes and dislikes, improving or teaching them skills, and helping them become as independent as possible is truly an amazing experience. I truly love that I get to spend my work days bettering our individual’s lives. As everyone knows the cost of living has increased and the economy makes it hard for full time employees to make ends meet. I myself am a young woman who is renting my own place for the first time, who has an associate degree, and other various expenses that I need to take care of and handle. If there was an increase in wages it would be beneficial for myself to pay off my current student loans and help plan ahead for my future. I would like to further my education and achieve a bachelor’s degree but in my current financial situation that dream has to be put on hold for now. A wage increase would help me achieve that easier. Someday I’d like to be able to start a family, own a home, and have a stable financial future. A wage increase would not only benefit me but it would also help our agency and our individuals. The turnover rate of staff in the DSP field is fairly high. Staff members often have to choose between bettering the lives of our individuals and bettering themselves along with their family’s needs. A wage increase could help remove that difficult choice and increase staff retention, also improving the quality of service for our individuals."

Makenna, Direct Support Professional at The Arc of Chemung


"A higher wage would definitely improve life for myself and my family. My husband and I are young and have goals for our future that include more children and buying a house which all comes at a cost. I also have a bachelor's degree, which includes school loans. I am placing my future with The Arc of Chemung but while I invest in this agency not much is being invested into my debt because of the cost of living. I enjoy my work place and the good I see happening in our community because of The Arc of Chemung. But the financial burden currently placed on my family makes some days feel difficult and gloomy. A higher wage would also improve my self-worth, I get up every day and go to work, I work hard and have dedicated myself to the people I support. However I feel my current wage doesn't reflect my self-worth and the value to this agency. I believe in being a loyal employee and taking care of my company, but i also believe in a loyal company and being taken care of by my employer."

Jenna, Direct Support Professional at The Arc of Chemung