The Arc of Ulster-Greene firmly believes that our staff deserve a living wage. Today’s rally, held at the Andy Murphy Neighborhood Center in Kingston, NY, was one of the stops on the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice tour. At the event, Executive Director John McHugh spoke briefly with Governor Andrew Cuomo, expressed his full support of the campaign for a $15 minimum wage and shared with him the amazing impact that this would have on the employees at The Arc of Ulster-Greene. He then queried the Governor for funding solutions, as our revenues come from New York State’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. The Governor responded, “I will fund it.”
While neither the Governor’s 2016 Budget nor his 30-day Budget Amendments provide for the necessary cost of living adjustment (COLA), his words give us great hope. Our continued lobby efforts – in Albany and locally – are making an impact towards including the appropriate monies within the state budget come April 1.
Join us in our continued lobbying by contacting his office with your stories regarding our It Matters To Me campaign.
- Increased Wages for DSP Workers:
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) work long hours and provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have the responsibility to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are safe in their residences, lead fulfilling lives and receive critical attention for complex issues. DSPs are some of the hardest working employees in the nation, but they are often paid at, or just above, minimum wage. Their wages are set by the state, and they deserve to be paid appropriately for their work.
Please share your stories about how a DSP has touched your life. We encourage you to explain how you rely on your DSP to care for your family member and ensure their well-being.
- Funding for Our Preschool:
Despite rising costs of preschools for children with developmental disabilities, the state government has not increased funding in six years. These special schools are not allowed to retain reserve funds for contingencies, like capital repairs, and the State Education Department (SED) recoups any excess tuition. The Brookside School, along with other similar preschools throughout the state could soon collapse without proper support.
Please tell us about your experience at The Brookside School. How did our school help your child or impact his/her future? Your stories will help our legislators understand the importance of early intervention at the preschool level.
- Work Opportunities for Adults:
Employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities are in very short supply. And now, as sheltered workshops have been phased out in place of integrated employment, which pays at least minimum wage, many people with developmental disabilities have found that securing a job is simply out of reach. These individuals cannot perform to the minimum wage standards, but they want to work. For them, earning a paycheck creates a meaningful life and they seek to be contributing members of our community.
What can you do about this? Request that your legislator pass S.5805 by Senator Young/A.8111 by Assemblyman Santabarbara in the upcoming 2016 legislative session. This bill, initiated by NYSARC, creates a customized employment program in state government by reducing jobs to their simple component parts (i.e. paper shredding, answering the phone), each of which can be performed as a single, competitive job by people with disabilities.
- Residential housing for individuals living at home with aging caregivers:
Our residential housing takes each individual’s needs and goals into consideration. But funding for these programs is decreasing while need has increased. Thousands of families are worried about who will take care of their sons or daughters when they are unable to do so.
Contact the Governor’s Office, your New York State Senator and New York State Assemblymember!
Say, “Governor Cuomo and the Legislature MUST fund the $15 minimum wage proposal! Funding is critical to the health, safety and well-being of people with developmental disabilities and it’s the right thing to do for the people who work tirelessly caring for them.”
- Governor (518) 474 -1041 and press 3 to speak to an assistant
- Senate switchboard – (518) 455 – 2800 – and ask for your Senator. You can find your Senator at http://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator
- Assembly switchboard (518) 455-4100 – and ask for your Assemblymember. You can find your Assemblymember at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/search