mailmanIt has been said that a Nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its neediest members. If this is true, the New York State Executive budget proposal should have included a living wage for those who care for others.

After graduating from college, I began my career as a direct care provider serving developmentally disabled adults. From this experience, I learned the important role that Direct Care Providers play in providing support to those who need assistance with daily living activities.

Direct Care Providers dedicate an incredible amount of time and energy to the people they support every day. They work to provide the most basic needs to residents with developmental and intellectual disabilities. They not only care for the needs of these vulnerable individuals but help them to lead fuller, more self-directed lives.

The month of March is National Developmental Disabilities Month, a perfect time to highlight the need for living wage for those who dedicate themselves to those with disabilities. Despite the clear need for these Direct Care Providers and the individuals they support, our Governor did not include a living wage in his budget or in his 30-day amendments.

This lack of support directly impacts approximately 130,000 New Yorkers with disabilities. This leaves people with developmental disabilities at risk of losing the care and support that helps them to be active, engaged and contributing members of our workforce and our communities.

Turnover is high in Direct Care positions. As a result, Direct Care Providers are routinely required to work long overtime hours. This has the potential to negatively impact the quality and continuity of care provided.

I join with my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle who overwhelmingly support the #bFair2DirectCare campaign. We are asking the Governor to include adequate funding over the next six years to provide a living wage for direct care workers.

This funding will impact both the individuals in our community who work in these direct care positions as well as those they support, including agencies like CP Rochester, Catholic Charities, Happiness House, and our local ARC's. Please join me in urging the Governor to reconsider funding this vital service in our communities.

NYS Senator Pam Helming