ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Lawmakers and advocates say there are serious issues when it comes to a workforce shortage of direct support professionals who assist those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Members of the legislature are having ongoing discussions about what’s creating the problem, and possible solutions.

Earlier this week the New York State Senate held a hearing to look into the shortage of direct support professionals or DSPs.

Democrat Senator John Mannion who chairs the Committee on Disabilities says not having enough staff to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is having devastating effects. “We all want an enriched life and sometimes people need a little bit of support, so it might be going to an outside therapy that they miss. It might be going to an event in the community, some of these day programs, and individuals are missing that,” Mannion said.

Additionally, it’s creating burnout for employees. Republican State Senator Mike Martucci says the financial incentive isn’t there. “The jobs of direct care professionals are hard, they’re very hard. They’re harder than bagging groceries or stocking shelves, more necessary than working in a drive-thru or fast food restaurant, and also more rewarding,” Martucci said. Still, “Working families cannot be expected to take a hit in order to work these jobs.”

Senator Mannion says a couple of things can be done to address the issue. “One is that we have to properly fund the system, and adjust the rates. And, two, is we really need a minimum wage for DSPs that is set apart from the regular minimum wage,” Mannion said. He also believes there’s room for better recruitment and that those who receive additional training and certifications should be rewarded for that.