Governor Hochul, Legislature Must Invest in Community-Based Providers in State Budget

By NYS member associations representing more than 1,000 community-based human services organizations | March 27, 2024

Across New York, there is a force of heroes providing critical care and supports across a variety of sectors. These community-based providers serve as the backbone of delivering vital services to New Yorkers who need care for mental health, addiction, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and foster care. But they are in peril.

Years of lack of investment in these providers has directly resulted in wage stagnation, high turnover rates, widespread staff vacancies, and wait lists for services. At the same time, costs of providing high quality services have increased significantly. Rising expenses, that include significant jumps in health and property insurance, transportation, utilities, and soaring property maintenance costs, are pushing the budgets of these community-based provider agencies to their limits. In this time of need, increased state investment in these services is not just a necessity but a moral imperative to ensure that vital services continue to reach those who depend on them most.

Starting in 2006, the state recognized the need for an annual investment in the human services field and established a “Cost of Living Adjustment.” The stated purpose of this COLA was “… to improve recruitment and retention of workers employed by voluntary providers as well as provide for inflationary cost increases which has created serious workforce and other operating pressures.”

In this year’s budget, the Senate and Assembly’s proposals for a 3.2% increase, in accordance with the Consumer Price Index, is laudable. This rate increase would provide much-needed relief, helping providers keep their doors open and retain essential staff. However, providers need to retain the ability to administer the COLA in accordance with the needs of their agency. For instance, using it to avoid passing increased health insurance costs to staff. It is crucial that this COLA remains flexible, recognizing the diverse needs of providers across different industries and regions.

Community-based providers that serve our most vulnerable need more resources to pay and retain staff and provide relief for inflationary cost increases.

Therefore, alongside the 3.2% COLA, our respective organizations have called for targeted investments in our workforce. Livable wages are a necessity, essential for attracting and retaining the skilled and dedicated individuals who deliver critical services to our communities.

We urge the Governor and the Legislature to heed our call. The time for action is now. We must stand together to support our nonprofit community-based providers, ensuring that they have the resources they need to continue their vital work.

Signed by thirteen NYS member associations representing more than 1,000 community-based human services organizations providing care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health and/or substance use disorder, and youth in foster care.

Mike Alvaro
President, New York Disability Advocates

Sebrina Barrett
Executive Director, Association for Community Living

Kathleen Brady-Stepien
President & CEO, The Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies

Lauri Cole
Executive Director, NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

Sharon Horton
Executive Director, NAMI-NYS

Jihoon Kim
CEO, InUnity Alliance (formerly the Coalition for Behavioral Health and ASAP-NYS)

Pascal Leone
Executive Director, Supportive Housing Network of NY

Glenn Liebman
CEO, Mental Health Association of New York State

Jackie Negri
Executive Director, New York State Care Management Coalition

Paige Pierce
CEO, Families Together in NYS

Harvey Rosenthal
CEO, The Alliance for Rights and Recovery

Allegra Schorr
President, Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates of NYS

Kayleigh Zaloga
President & CEO, NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health


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