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Families of developmentally disabled implore Gov. Hochul to put more in budget for staffing

Families of developmentally disabled people beg Gov. Hochul for more staffing
Families of developmentally disabled people beg Gov. Hochul for more staffing 02:05

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Families of New York's most vulnerable have issued a plea to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

They say her budget does not raise staff pay enough to care for state residents with developmental disabilities. They say years of defunding is causing a staffing crisis.

Noah Probert, a 35-year-old with cerebral palsy, wants to live independently, but can't find a supportive group home that has enough staff.

"We need help, more staff. We need more money. It's important for people to live a life on their own," said Probert, of Wantagh.

"We can't find an aide that wants to come to the house to stay with him, can't find any type of housing," added Sandra Probert, Noah's mother.

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Those who qualify are on waiting lists and in day programs for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Direct support professionals are paid just minimum wage.

"We cannot fill these jobs and there are hundreds of people on waiting lists, waiting to serve those who are at home with family members and not receiving the support they need," said Stanfort Perry, CEO of AHRC Nassau.

"This is staff that cares for our children. They work. They are some of the hardest jobs that anyone does. It's very emotional. We have days that we don't have our son picked up because there is not enough staff," said Lisa Davis, mother of a disabled son.

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Gathering at Hempstead Town Hall, families demanded more than the 2.5% cost-of-living increase currently in the governor's budget, amid, they say, a decade of underfunding.

"This is a crisis beyond what any of us have ever seen. We can't wait anymore," said Bob Policastro of Anglica's House.

"The state really does have money. They just don't prioritize our population ever. We are always last," Hempstead Councilmember Missy Miller said.

A spokesman for the governor pointed to a more than 5% cos of living increase last year and said the budget "makes transformative investments to make New York more affordable, more livable and safer."

But families say the staffing crisis is impacting safety. Bobby Carpenter, who has autism, recently went missing from a group home for hours.

"They're overworked. These people are working two, three shifts in a row. They're underpaid. There is high turnover," parent Bob Carpenter said.

Families are launching a letter-writing campaign to the governor and plan to rally in Albany on Thursday. Their message is New York's most vulnerable can no longer be put last.

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