HELP program will be harmful for disability sector

HELP Program will exacerbate pay disparity between nonprofit and state-operated agencies

The Governor on Wednesday announced a program intended to make it easier to fill thousands of vacant positions in the human services sector. The Hiring for Emergency Limited Placement (HELP) program will suspend civil service exams for some positions and creates an online job portal designed to make it easier to search and apply for state positions.
This may be well intentioned, but it shows an ignorance of the serious financial issues facing nonprofit providers and their staff. While New York has provided three wage increases for OPWDD-employed Direct Support Providers in the past three years, the non-profit workforce has been chronically underfunded.
DSPs in nonprofit agencies make $16/hour on average – compared to $23- $25 for state-operated DSPs. They both provide the same essential care for people with disabilities, assume the same risks, and live up to the same standards, but DSPs at nonprofits are undervalued and underpaid simply because they don’t work for the state.
This type of preferential treatment is unacceptable. Making it easier to get a state job is wonderful, but again, state-operated agencies only care for 15% of New Yorkers with disabilities.
It would better serve all New Yorkers with disabilities – as well as potential employees and taxpayers – for Governor Hochul and the State Legislature to establish a Direct Support Wage Enhancement to better recruit and retain essential staff.
CP State’s partners in New York Disability Advocates have also issued a statement. Read it here.