Lalor Calls for More Funding for Direct Care Workers

Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor joins Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Senator Sue Serino at a press conference on Monday to speak about higher pay for direct care workers.

East Fishkill, NY - Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, along with Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Senator Sue Serino, held a press conference on Monday, March 6 in support of higher pay for direct care workers through the inclusion of $45 million in the 2017-2018 state budget. The press conference took place in front of the County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie. Representatives from local direct care agencies, including Abilities First, Anderson Center for Autism, the Arc Community League, ARC of Dutchess, Cardinal Hayes Home for Children, Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County, Devereaux, Gateway Industries, Greystone and New Horizons Resources Inc., among others, attended the conference. The County Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs Toni-Maria Ciarfella and Director Todd Tancredi of the Office for the Aging also participated. Assemblyman Frank Skartados could not attend but sent his representative, Christopher Witson.

Direct care workers receive between the minimum wage of $9.70 to $13.00 hourly for their services, which protect and enhance the lives of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. Direct care workers provide daily services for the disabled that encompass a wide range of needs. The agencies that employ these workers currently face a job vacancy of 10% and a 23% turnover rate in yearly employment, due to the current pay rate.

Lalor said, “This additional funding will help agencies that provide services for our developmentally disabled population to recruit, train and retain dedicated direct care workers. This will, in turn, provide continuity to the lives of developmentally disabled New Yorkers. This would help those workers who do continuous work with the developmentally disabled and who are often on public assistance themselves.”

When asked where the $45 million could come from, Lalor said, “One option is to reduce the Film Tax Credit, which is currently $420 million per year, by a mere eleven percent. Hollywood moguls will understand that their taxpayer-funded subsidy to make movies and television shows had to be reduced so we can do what is right for our direct care workers and the developmentally disabled New Yorkers they care for.”

Lalor noted, “I almost never call for any kind of spending. However, I believe the state has no higher calling than to provide for and protect the truly vulnerable people of New York State. This $45 million support for direct care workers will do precisely that.”

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “Direct care workers help ensure those with developmental disabilities get the care and support they need to face challenges and live life to its fullest. Those who choose to help our vulnerable show us what it truly means to ThinkDIFFERENTLY. Now it is time to show our support for their dedicated and selfless work with a wage increase.”

“Our direct care workers go above and beyond to provide vital services to some of our community’s most vulnerable, yet their low wages shows that their hard work and commitment is grossly underappreciated. Our state needs to reevaluate its priorities when it comes to spending and that means forgoing the extras like State Fair gondolas and light-shows on our bridges in order to provide funds to recruit, train and keep these invaluable employment opportunities. I am proud to stand in support of this initiative and I will continue to advocate for this important funding.” - Senator Sue Serino

“Direct care workers give their all to make life better for those who need help getting through everyday challenges – they deserve to be paid as the heroes they are!” - Assemblyman Frank Skartados.