Meet Shaleta and John.
Shaleta is John’s direct support professional (DSP) providing the support he needs to live successfully in the community. Over 30,000 NJ residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities like John rely on DSPs to survive. Tragically, poverty-level wages are driving caring people like Shaleta away from profession, causing a critical shortage of qualified DSPs. It’s time NJ invest in a DSP Living Wage and #PayFair4DirectCare.
Special thanks to all the DSPs, self-advocates, parents, family members, and providers who came out to the budget hearings in late March/early April to make their voice heard. We’re certainly off to a great start, but there’s much more work to be done to secure funds in FY2019 to raise DSP wages by $1.25. This is where you come in!
We need your help keeping this issue front and center with policymakers. Please consider taking advantage of these opportunities to get involved and make your voice heard during this critical time. You can copy and paste the letter below and email it to:
Senator Paul Sarlo, Chair
Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee
Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin
Chairwoman, Assembly Budget Committee
Dear Chairman Sarlo and Chairwoman Pintor Marin:
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities depend on Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to live successful, integrated lives in communities across the state.
Unfortunately, the starting salary for these jobs is only $10.50 an hour and after years without an increase, the system is now facing a workforce crisis. Low wages have led to a 44% turnover rate and a 20% vacancy rate and the State must take action to turn things around.
DSPs are the foundation of the community-based service delivery system and their low wages fail to compensate them for the highly-skilled, complex and vital work that they do. To stabilize the Direct Support Professional workforce, New Jersey must begin to bring wages in line with the vast responsibility and importance of the job.
With that in mind, I respectfully ask for your support to raise wages for DSPs by $1.25 an hour in the FY19 Budget.
Thank you for your consideration.