There’s no sugarcoating it- Living Resources kneads more dough. Literally. This past week, our program staff and participants have been advocating for an 8.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and a wage enhancement for Direct Support Professionals – and taking some whisks to get their point across.

Governor Hochul’s Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget proposal includes a 2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the Medicaid reimbursement rates for non-profit organizations that operate under the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). It is no secret that inflationary costs have increased substantially more than 2.5% over the past year and that a 2.5% COLA is not nearly enough to allow us to continue to provide quality supportive services to the intellectually/developmentally disabled (I/DD) community. Additionally, while the Governor is proposing $50 million in funding to provide substantial salary increases for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who work for New York State, she failed to include any funding so that non-profit providers like Living Resources can do the same for our DSPs who provide similar supportive care.

With this knowledge, the groups used a St. Patrick’s Day theme, and created hand-made sugar cookies in the shapes of shamrocks to tell their representatives “We’re not searching for a Pot of Gold, just equal pay for equal work.” They mixed, baked, and decorated the cookies themselves, adding a little bit of love to each into every treat. Then, on March 7, 2023, ten groups from our Day Community Opportunities and Supportive Living Programs went to the Capital to hand-deliver a cookie to each representative while communicating their needs. This wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, they had to secure parking, walk the long Concourse, and navigate the large and sometimes confusing structure that are the Capitol and Legislative Office Building, but it was worth it. When the morning was over, staff and individuals alike felt empowered (you could even say “Flour-powered.”)

Everyone who cares about New Yorkers who have disabilities and the workforce who supports them is urged to join the advocacy by calling or writing to your state representatives. Your representatives keep records of how many phone calls, letters, and emails they get from their constituents, which helps them determine the most important issues they need to fight for. Click here to see the cookie advocacy in action: