The Arc of Minnesota and the Best Life Alliance are seeking stories from residents of every legislative district in the state that demonstrate the importance of DSPs in order to work towards a DSP hourly wage increase in 2017. Minnesotans interested in participating should fill out this template and consent form and email them to [email protected]. More resources are available on their web site.
The Arc of New Jersey, in conjunction with other disability advocacy organizations, has created the Coalition for a DSP Living Wage. The coalition seeks to increase DSP wages by $1.25 per hour every year for the next five years, which will bring the starting wage up to $16.75 per hour by 2022. Learn more about the Coalition here.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Tennessee’s Employment First Task Force, of which The Arc of Tennessee is a part, is promoting a #HireMyStrengths campaign. The campaign, started by TennesseeWorks, places an emphasis on the individual strengths of people with and without disabilities. Participants are asked to write their strengths on a sign and share a picture holding the sign on social media.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and The Arc of New Jersey is hosting a “Watch Me Work” series to commemorate it. Each week, they will tell the story of an individual with I/DD who is succeeding in competitive employment. Additionally, they will host a webinar on pre-employment transition services.
NYSARC and other like-minded organizations held a rally in Schenectady, NY on August 24 to advocate for fair wages for direct support professionals (DSP). State Assembly Member Angelo Santabarbara emceed the rally, which was attended by developmental disability agency leaders, local legislators, DSPs, self-advocates, and their families. The event was organized as part of the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition’s “300 Days to Better Pay” campaign. Learn more about the campaign on NYSARC’s website. Follow the coalition on Facebook and Twitter.
NYSARC has led in the development of the #bFair2DirectCare coalition of providers to advocate for increased Medicaid funding to provide a living wage for DSPs and other support staff in light of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement regarding raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour throughout the state over the course of five years. 2015 data from the seven major providers throughout the state indicates a 9.3% vacancy rate for DSPs, a 23% one-year turnover rate, and reliance on more than 6.4 million hours of overtime. The coalition’s position is that failing to provide funding to increase pay to DSPs places providers at a great disadvantage in a competitive labor market. “It is not uncommon to see talented and dedicated DSPs driven to leave our field to take jobs at big box stores so they can better provide for their families,” said NYSARC Executive Director Steven Kroll. The campaign has been garnering media coverage and gaining awareness as it takes its message statewide. In June, the coalition held a press conference outside of the Nassau County Supreme Court to highlight the “300 Days to Better Pay” campaign. The press conference highlighted how providers of supports and services for New Yorkers with I/DD face inadequate funding and policies that threaten community integration. Organizations that support individuals with I/DD have seen only one rate increase since the recession of 2008, an average increase of less than one-half of 1% per year. Now they face as much as a 67% increase in the mandated minimum wage, new overtime rules, and growing competition from other employers. Read more in the coalition’s press release and an article covering the coalition’s work in Newsday. Follow the coalition on Facebook and Twitter.
The Arc of Florida is developing a statewide initiative to address an increase in choking deaths of individuals with I/DD who are served through the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The first phase of the initiative, aimed at providing primary outreach to front line staff, is developing durable plastic cutting boards to be distributed to all residential and other programs throughout Florida. The cutting boards display the appropriate cutting size of food and other tips to reduce choking hazards. The Arc of Florida is also working with nursing staff to develop additional training materials on choking prevention, including posters and short videos, as an advocacy effort to provide outreach to a broader audience.