1,000 signatures reached
To: Sheila Theodorou, Director for Bureau of Supports for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and Rochelle Zaslow, Southeast Regional Program Manager
Disability Care Workers Demand Oversight Agency Enforce Dignified Work Standards!
Spanish Translation/Traducción Española: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kzC9dimAx0TRJOqmk45RGHjP0U67TBzBnqu57ZyBYm0/edit
Audio-recording of Petition: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14MN1I-tEQGuDp_aUxV1BkP4A6LH4huIv/view?usp=sharing
Sign this petition in solidarity with workers in disability services as they demand higher wages, quality training, and the inclusion of disabled people!
We are disability service workers who demand the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and provider agencies of Philadelphia do the following:
1. Raise the minimum wage to at least $15 for all direct care and support workers.
A recent study in Pennsylvania confirmed what we know: that pay is “at an unacceptably low level.” It is unconscionable that we provide vital support but are not paid enough to support ourselves and our families. Low wages contribute to high turnover and low-quality support, both of which fundamentally harm people with disabilities.
2. Create a comprehensive training system that prepares workers for their jobs while providing opportunities for serious professional growth and development. Disabled people must be deeply involved in developing the content of the training and in leadership roles throughout the process.
Why is this important?
We are workers in disability services writing to address issues that impact us and the people we provide services to—people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the greater Philadelphia region. As direct care workers, employment support professionals, personal care attendants, and other essential workers, we make it possible for many people to live and work in their communities, and without the revenue we bring in, the provider agencies we work for could not exist. However, despite our critical responsibilities, the work is not taken seriously, and consequently the well-being of disabled people is disregarded.
ODP and provider agencies do not meet the needs of the people they allegedly serve because they do not invest in their workforce. Provider agencies do not pay most disability service workers a living wage, and they provide cursory, poor-quality training. Low wages and inadequate training lead to high turnover, chaotic workplace environments, and a workforce who is unprepared to meet the needs and desires of the people we serve. The high turnover rate combined with the lack of training disrupt peoples’ lives and increase the risk of preventable incidents, which often cause incredible trauma. ODP and provider agencies’ failure to invest in us as workers directly harms people with disabilities. We, as disability service workers, must be paid at least $15 an hour and be trained commensurate with the importance of our role in the lives of other human beings.
ODP and provider agencies exclude disability service workers from the conversation about how to improve our field, and we demand to be recognized for our essential input. In addition, disabled people must be included in the conversation to center their needs, insight, and experience. Disabled people frequently do not have a choice about who is part of their lives or system of care and are more likely to experience abuse because they may depend on others to assist them. Those with direct experience of receiving services must be the primary authority on the value of the services they receive and the broader conversations around our field. We demand a comprehensive training system that prepares workers for their jobs that is developed and led by people with disabilities.
It is not fair to the workers or to disabled people to be treated with such disregard. Workers need to be prepared for our jobs, and we deserve opportunities to grow and develop as professionals. Disabled people deserve well-trained workers who provide safe and steady support. They should not be placed in abusive or stressful situations or be forced to ask a stranger, friend, or relative to help them because they can’t trust their workers or the provider system to prioritize their well-being. The lack of recognition given to the importance of direct care work misses opportunities to create commitment in the job and enduring positive relationships with the community it intends to serve.
We demand that the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs and provider agencies of the Philadelphia area pay a wage of dignity and provide training commensurate with the great responsibility we have in supporting and caring for our fellow human beings.
Once a critical mass of disability care workers sign onto the petition, we will deliver this petition and escalate to ensure ODP meets our demands.