On June 13th, at 1PM, the NYS Capitol’s Million Dollar Staircase was the site for a press conference held by Assemblywoman Ellen C. Jaffee (D-Suffern) in support of the MSAR request for pay parity for direct care workers in child welfare agencies represented by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
Assemblywoman Jaffee, representative of the 97th District and chair of the Assembly’s Children and Families Committee, held this press conference to make the point that direct care workers working in programs associated with OCFS need pay equitable with what direct care workers under the Office of Mental Health (OMH), Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (OASAS) and Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) receive in the budget process.
The June 13th press conference sent an important public message about this workforce and the need for the state to invest in their pay increases. Assemblywoman Jaffee’s message was further amplified when staff from members of the Council on Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA) including LaSalle School in Albany shared insights about the work they and their peers do for youth and families as well as the role of direct care staff on a youth’s development.
In her remarks, Assemblywoman Jaffee said “Today we’re here calling upon the governor and the Division of Budget to establish a wage parity by providing these direct care workers and child welfare agencies the same 3.25% increase as was provided for other direct care workers in January of 2018 and another 3.25% for direct care and clinical staff in April of 2018. These extraordinary individuals, hardworking, are charged with insuring the health and safety and well being of tens of thousands of our most precious and most vulnerable children and youth across the state.”
On May 23rd, Jaffee spoke to a joint public hearing on access to quality child care and the potential threat to children and family services. In her remarks that day, she said “Many of our hardworking childcare providers are facing a crisis. As costs go up, including the minimum wage, the rate providers receive for subsidized care is actually diminishing. Already the market rate is not sufficient to cover the actual cost of care, and in recent years this rate has been lowered from 75th to 69th percent of the market. This threatens providers’ stabilities and in turn threatens the stability of families that rely on them. We have to do better!”
Today, the storied profiles of historical figures carved into the Million Dollar Staircase might just as well have been replaced with representatives of the direct care workforce. Heroes to the youth who continue to profit from their care and guidance and the communities who benefit from their many contributions to society – their time for pay parity has come!
An article in support of fair pay for OCFS direct care workers was written by COFCCA’s James Purcell and featured in the New York Nonprofit News.
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