Rainy weather didn’t stop Eden Autism parents, participants, staff, and trustees from joining the DSP Coalition Rally to Raise Wages May 13.
Approximately 250 people attended the rally at the New Jersey State House to demand an increase in funding for Direct Support Professionals. The Coalition for a DSP Living Wage is seeking $54 million of state funding for DSP wages, which would give the state access to the $54 million federal match.
The funding is needed to help secure competitive DSP wages. DSPs provide critical support for individuals with developmental disabilities to successfully live in their communities. Their duties include meeting medical and behavioral health needs, as well as teaching necessary daily living skills.
While their work is vital toward helping individuals with developmental disabilities live successful lives, a lack of funding often results in low DSP wages. The Coalition, however, is working to raise awareness and funding for DSPs across the state.
“Direct support professionals provide invaluable services for our participants and their families, and their hard work is a cornerstone of our mission to help individuals with autism lead fulfilling, meaningful lives,” said Michael Decker, President and CEO of Eden Autism. “We are proud to stand with the Coalition to advocate for additional funding to help support direct support professionals.”
At the rally, Coalition members, activists, community members, and State Senate President Steve Sweeney discussed the impact DSPs have on their lives and communities.
“The service providers who are on the frontline providing care for the disabled should be fully appreciated and valued for their service,” said Sweeney.
After the rally, Valerie Sellers, CEO of the New Jersey Association of Community Providers, delivered a letter from the Coalition to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office. The letter detailed why the state’s continued investment in DSP wages is critical for the field’s success, as well as the success of so many individuals and their families.
While the rally is over, the fight for increased DSP wages continues. Contact your legislators and let them know you support more funding for DSPs.
For more information about the rally or how you can help advocate for DSPs, visit njdspcoalition.org.