Great News About the Final FY21 Budget for People with I/DD & Their Families! I am happy to report that the revised Fiscal Year 2021 Budget signed by Governor Murphy yesterday includes $40 million to increase wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) while also avoiding any cuts to services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This is a tremendous outcome in light of the significant financial challenges facing the State of New Jersey as a result of COVID-19. The DSP wage increase will go into effect on January 1, 2021 so that DSP wages are a step ahead of the state’s rising minimum wage. In addition, DSPs working in licensed residential settings will receive a temporary wage enhancement of $3 per hour starting October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This temporary wage enhancement is a recognition of the extra challenges, brought upon by COVID-19, that DSPs are facing as they continue to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This workforce can’t work from home and they can’t support people with I/DD while social distancing. We are grateful for all they do and we are thrilled to see the state acknowledging their hard work.
Additionally, the final Budget includes a $45 million investment in the Children’s System of Care within the Department of Children and Families. This funding will help support youth with behavioral health conditions and children with I/DD and their families.
Finally, the Budget bill signed yesterday includes $25 million for service providers to be distributed through the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Families. This funding will help with some of the pandemic-related costs incurred by providers, including cleaning, technology upgrades, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
In such an unconventional year, we are grateful to the Governor, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin for their support of those we represent. But we also know this outcome would not be possible without the perseverance and dedication of our grassroots network. We thank each and every one of you who took the time to respond to action alerts, send emails and reach out to legislators. The COVID-19 health crisis has made our world much more complicated, but our grassroots proved that the voice of the disability community will rise up through these challenging days and be heard.
Thank you again for being a part of this hard-fought victory and for your continued support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. You all played a very big role in making this news a reality.