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Disability advocates call for pay raise for adult care providers

Delaware Public Media

Workers who help disabled people with daily activities are asking state lawmakers for a wage increase.

The McNesby Act - signed into law by Gov. John Carney last year - committed to fully funding services for adults with disabilities. But it’s subject to available funding.

The legislation provided $4.6 million in the current fiscal year. That equals to about $10.30 an hour for workers, called direct support professionals, although some make more.

Carney recommends nearly $2 million more for FY 2020. That raises workers’ wages to about 83 percent of 2014 market rates but just about 66.2 percent of 2019 rates.

Workers told JFC members it’s hard to get by on the current hour wages and it requires difficult economic decisions.

Chelsey Delgado is a direct support professional and a single mom. She says her income - even with food stamps and subsidized child care is difficult to live on.

“With daycare you know being almost $200 every week and you know everyday necessities," she said. "It’s just not enough.”

Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs State Sen. Harris McDowell and State Rep. Quinn Johnson say they may support more funding. Johnson says it depends on state revenue numbers.

"We have to remind everybody, while we’re talking surplus right now, we could actually see some of that go in the other direction, we don’t know yet," he said.

If lawmakers decided to add give disability support providers $14 million, that would reduce the state’s more than 40 million shortfall to bring wages to 100 percent of current market rates by a third.

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