State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo has voiced his support for a minimum wage increase for human services workers who help people with special needs and the mentally ill. DiGirolamo made the announcement late last week at a breakfast in Lansdale with Moving Agencies Toward Excellence.
An association of human services providers, MAX serves Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. DiGirolamo took the opportunity to express his gratitude for support workers.
“You are absolutely right on target for direct support workers. Absolutely they need a wage increase for the work that they do,” DiGirolamo said. “Thank you for the work that you do in helping and protecting our most vulnerable citizens. It is appreciated in Harrisburg by more legislators than you can imagine.”
Direct support workers were at the center of conversation at the breakfast, who have had to endure budget and benefit cuts over the last 10 years. Due to budget cuts, they can no longer be compensated to do extra time for work, they no longer have mileage reimbursement, and they saw benefits cut.
As a result, the profession has a high turnover rate due to their stagnant wages and budget cuts. MAX advocated for minimum wage increases for DSP workers so that they can do their work with a living wage.
Diane Conway, Executive Director of MAX, continues to fight for funding for Direct Support Professionals.
“They are critical, they are the ones who fight to change people lives. They are the people who work but depend on public assistance and they are struggling. The work they do is above minimum wage. It is critical issue that we want to work to give these hardworking people a family sustaining wage”.
State Senator Maria Collett joined Representative DiGirolamo in praising support workers for their hard work and pledges her support to the workers.
“The work that direct support professionals do is invaluable, you can’t put a number on it,” Collett said.
Representative DiGirolamo is the chair of the House Human services committee and vows to take these issues head on.