Direct Support Professionals Make Communities Stronger

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I,Ref-Canandaigua)
September 15, 2017

The incredible professionals who care for the disability community provide some of the most important services in the state and across the nation— caring for our most vulnerable population. Too often, their efforts are overlooked and the selfless dedication they offer to those in their care is taken for granted.

As we honor Direct Support Professional Recognition Week (September 10-16), we should all take a moment to consider and reflect on the amazing work of our direct-support professionals. We owe them a huge “thanks” for all they do, and the commitment they demonstrate each day.

Taking Care of Those Who Care For The Disability Community

It is critical we continue to attract quality, qualified workers to meet the increasing demand for direct support professionals. As demand for direct care workers rises, workforce pressures and competition have driven professionals toward other jobs. Without enough providers, care for the disability community will suffer.

This is unacceptable in a state with such a proud tradition of caring for the vulnerable. The Assembly Minority Conference has consistently fought against cuts in funding for direct-care workers and advocated for wages that allow them to compete against other industries. In recent years, we have helped make tremendous headway toward improving care for the disability community by:

  • fighting alongside advocates like the “bFair2DirectCare” coalition to secure a two-year commitment of $55 million for direct-care workers during this year’s state budget negotiations;
  • single-handedly securing the restoration of $90 million in proposed cuts to programs and services for the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) during the 2013 budget negotiations; and
  • hosting an 11-forum Task Force on Protecting the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities that focused on identifying ways to support and expanding community-based services, and ensure the needs of people with disabilities and their families are being considered.

Putting Priorities In Place

The direct care industry shouldn’t be forced to come to Albany every year and fight to preserve their very existence. Their needs should be among our highest priorities. Unfortunately, recent proposals have either threatened essential programs, or prioritized other industries for political gain.

As we have always done in the past, the Assembly Minority Conference will proudly fight on behalf of New York’s direct care professionals. During this special week, thank a direct care worker for the invaluable work they do every day - for their patients, for their profession and for the communities they serve.

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or email me at