HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - - Representatives of the Arcs of Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben counties rallied Thursday in support of increased funding for the professionals who care for, and support, others with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Executive directors, family members, direct support professionals, and those individuals being supported were all in attendance along with a few of New York State's elected officials.
The hope was for Governor Andrew Cuomo to set aside $45 million in his 2017-18 Executive Budget towards direct support professionals' wages.
"The wages are going up," New York Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R, 132nd District) said. "But if there is no help from the state, if this $45 million isn't included, it's going to compress the other opportunities and experiences for the developmentally disabled community, which will directly impact their quality of life and quality of care."
The need for increased funding comes after a raise in New York State's minimum wage.
Supporters of the increase in funding say setting aside $45 million in the budget would help develop a living wage for direct support professionals caring for people with disabilities.
"We really need to invest in this workforce," Arc of Schuyler's Executive Director Jeannette Frank said. "These are the best of the best people. These are people who care. These are people who are very highly trained, and yet their wages don't reflect the professionalism that is required of them, and it is time we recognized that."
"That type of interaction, they hold them, they hug them, they are family to them," parent and Arc of Schuyler board member Jay Hoffmeier said. "I think that what they do, and how they show that, comes across because they truly love their folks."
Gov. Cuomo submits his Executive Budget next week, and it will be finalized by April 1.
To learn how you can show your support for increased funding, click here to send an email or call 518-474-8390.
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