Assemblywoman Jaffee, Legislators, Direct Care Workers Call for Wage Increase, Salary Parity for OCFS Child Welfare Direct Care Workers

Site Significant crisis in attracting and retaining a qualified direct care workforce

JAFFEE PRESS RELEASE

Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern), Chair of the Assembly Children and Families Committee, on Tuesday held a press conference urging the governor and the Division of Budget to support children, youth, the direct care workforce, and voluntary not-for-profit agencies that care for the most vulnerable.

The Legislators called for including in the administrative rate setting process, wage increases and equivalent support for individuals working in programs licensed by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and approving a Maximum State Aid Rate (MSAR) package that truly reflects the needs of children and youth in caretoday.

The 2017-18 budget provided to other direct care workers working in programs licensed by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Mental Health, and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, a 3.25% increase for direct care workers on January 1, 2018 and another 3.25% for direct care and clinical staff on April 1, 2018.

“Dedicated OCFS individuals working each and every day with our most vulnerable children, youth and families should receive the living wage they deserve,” Jaffee said. “These hardworking individuals are charged with ensuring the health, safety and well-being of tens of thousands of our precious and most vulnerable children and youth across this state, many who have been placed in our care as a result of abuse, neglect, and trauma.”

Child welfare agencies have faced significant challenges over the last several years, including an inability to atract and retain qualified staff, which has made it increasingly difficult to operate and provide the complex level of care that these children and youth require. In addition, multiple years of stagnant MSARs, compounded with unfunded mandates such as the minimum wage and the additional staff time to comply with Justice Center requirements have further strained the resources of agencies and has directly impacted their ability to invest in staff.

“Youth today require more intensive therapies and services to overcome increasingly complex mental health, substance abuse, and trauma issues,” Jaffee said. “We as a State have a moral responsibility to provide these children and youth the high-quality care and stability that begins with investing in a qualified, direct care workforce. Today is the time to make that investment.”