Direct-support pros need support in state budget

There is a serious staffing crisis for direct-support professionals (DSP), the workforce that supports and cares for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. As a parent of a developmentally disabled daughter living in a community-based group home, I repeatedly see dedicated staff reluctantly leave because they cannot afford to work there and/or who are suffering from burnout due to long hours and low wages. And, there are few new staff to take their place.

The DSP workforce is in crisis mainly due to very low wages. With an average starting wage of $11 per hour, it is virtually impossible to compete with many retailers already paying $15 per hour, and the state’s minimum wage on a path to $15 per hour for jobs that are less demanding and require significantly less responsibility and skill than direct support. The staff turnover rate is 44% and vacancy rate is 20%, jeopardizing the health and safety of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in community settings.

People should urge Gov. Phil Murphy and their state legislators to support the inclusion of $54 million for direct support professionals in the budget to secure a competitive wage that will allow for recruitment and retention of quality workers.

Jean Reilly

Galloway Township

Potholes worse than ever

Bump, bump, bump, and then some more bumps. There are an estimated 55 million potholes in the United States. New Jersey has its regal share of “holy” roads.

As an example, I do not take Route 55 from Cumberland Mall northward until I can exit on Landis Avenue. I would surely have a ton of tire damage.

There was so much heavy damage due to climate change and changing weather conditions that existed throughout the past winter. Local and state road repairmen are out there all over the place.

How many roads can I avoid?

In speaking with a representative from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, I learned that calls are coming in from all over the place. North, Central and Southern New Jersey have their shares of holes in the pavement. What to do? Travel slow and with prudence.

Expenses for car maintenance have increased. Potholes can ruin tires and damage suspensions. Roads are getting older and more crotchety. Hopefully, local as well as state maintenance crews can get enough money to do the needed fixing.

This seems like the very worst year for potholes.

Dolores M. Hall

Pittsgrove

ESPN’s Ley a true pro

Regarding the recent story, “ESPN anchor Bob Ley retires after 40 years with network”:

I had the honor of working alongside Bob Ley as part of the production staff at TV3 Suburban Cablevision in East Orange in the 1970s.

Every report, every “Time In” studio show with Bruce Beck, every local sporting event, was treated as if it was on a nationwide network. And Ley brought that professional sensibility to the fledgling ESPN.

Michael Maggio

Galloway Township

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