Noteworthy: New York State Budget Advances; COLA Uncertain

News from the Noteworthy: Springbrook

New York State Budget Advances; COLA Uncertain

April is approaching, with the hope of warmer weather and long days of sunshine. April also happens to be the time of year that New York State passes its budget. A time when many New Yorkers, myself included, wait hopefully for news that will make a difference in how we at Springbrook can operate and support the people we serve and employ.

For over a decade, Springbrook, like many other non-profit agencies supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, faced underfunding, increased costs, and budget cuts resulting in a workforce crisis. The pandemic exacerbated that crisis but forced all of us to understand, respect and be grateful for the essential workforce recognized in the Cost of Living Adjustment. Our highly skilled professional workforce provides 24-hour support for people with I/DD. Their work is the very foundation of what we do at Springbrook, supporting people at every stage of their life.

At Springbrook, we have always advocated: not just for the people we serve, but for the essential employees who are there every day to meet the needs of individuals and families at school, in their homes, and in the community. Over the past year, we have promoted issues related to the intellectual and developmental disability community and their care; we have invested in calls to action to raise the wage for our direct support professionals, teachers, therapists, and staff. These actions were heard, and the state answered with a unanimous YES to continue supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, caregivers, staff, and advocates.

On March 16th, the Senate took a crucial step in reversing the employment crisis when the Senate majority budget resolution was advanced. The resolution includes the addition of an 8.5 percent COLA. This increase will provide critical funds for the services not-for-profit organizations like Springbrook provide and, most notably, those on the frontline of support for nonprofit providers serving people with developmental disabilities. This step has been made possible with the support of direct support professionals, advocates, and families who made their voices heard in the call to action. However, we still have much to advocate for. This 8.5 percent COLA is only the first step. As community members, Springbrook employees live, work, and volunteer locally and forever give back to the community to which they belong. This is why continuing our advocacy work and answering calls to action is essential.

Now, we can only hope that the final New York State budget commits to their continued support of people with I/DD, their families, the people who provide their direct support, advocates and caregivers, and the organizations that hold it all together by voting yes on the final budget on April 1st.

Patricia Kennedy is the chief executive officer of Springbrook.

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