Direct Support Professionals on Track to Receive Bonuses, Incentives, and Raises With Funding Announced by Gov. Hocul

Governor Kathy Hochul announced yesterday that the New York Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will provide over $1.5 billion in one-time American Rescue Plan Act Funding to support recruitment efforts, retention incentives and vaccination bonuses for direct support professionals who provide support for people with developmental disabilities in an effort to address workforce shortages in this field.

“Direct Support Professionals provided essential support to people with developmental disabilities throughout the pandemic when we needed them most, in spite of the risk to themselves and their own families,” Governor Hochul said. “We owe these workers a debt of gratitude and the American Rescue Plan funding paves the way for bonuses, incentives and one time pay raises to help keep these hardworking, loyal and devoted workers doing what they love most, supporting people with developmental disabilities.”

On July 8, 2021, New York State submitted its initial draft spending plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the enhanced federal funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The CMS has provided partial approval of the plan as it relates to the workforce.

As approved, OPWDD’s plan targeted most of the funding to workforce initiatives, including payments to provide bonuses to DSPs and family care providers. OPWDD plans to invest the one-time ARPA funding in workforce improvements and incentives including:

  • A “Heroes Fund” which will provide incentive payments to those DSPs who worked during the unprecedented pandemic with additional payments for those who received the COVID vaccine.
  • Retention and longevity bonuses will make additional investments in the workforce by rewarding longevity and providing additional bonuses to staff who remain in the DSP workforce.
  • Long-term recruitment and retention strategies which will be developed and tested with funding for projects that address the long-term stability of the workforce.  Funding will be made available to incentivize credentialing and other strategies that build skills and competency of DSP workforce and front-line supervisors. 

At this time, these disbursements are only available to family care providers and direct support workers who are employed by voluntary service providers, including staff who deliver services under the self-direction program. Discussions are ongoing regarding state employed direct support workers.