A new city plan to tie productivity to pay increases at social service organizations represents more than a long-awaited raise for some 13,000 workers—it’s also a win for the Bloomberg administration, which is looking for ways to make sure nonprofits that hold contracts with city agencies become increasingly efficient and work in line with management goals.
In an agreement between the city and the Human Services Council, an umbrella organization that represents local nonprofits, the city committed $70 million to increase salaries for employees of agencies that contract with the Department of Homeless Services, the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department for the Aging. They will receive a 9 percent overall increase, a 3 percent compounded increase, and a one-time $1,000 cash payment. But there’s also a bonus: an additional 2 percent increase tied to new productivity benchmarks.
For example, ACS preventive services contractors will now be required to be open late two nights a week as well as four hours on Saturday. Agencies that serve homeless people will have to show that they’ve exhausted all alternatives before sending clients to shelter. And Department for the Aging contract groups will be asked to simplify reporting requirements to reduce staff time spent on administrative tasks. Aging also plans to purchase power and health insurance collectively to get lower rates.
Three task forces, consisting of representatives from the three city agencies and service providers, will be set up this month to further develop the proposals, which could kick in as early as July 1.
“The level of collaboration is unprecedented,” said Michael Stoller, executive director of the Human Services Council. “We came up with these together and we are going to track them together to make sure everybody wins, the city, the provider, and most importantly the clients.”
For many providers, the salary increase is a dream come true. “The staff here really deserve it,” said Aubrey Featherstone, executive director of Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families, a child welfare organization that runs a preventive child welfare program. The most recent salary increase for the program’s staff, who earn $31,000 to $37,000 depending on education, was five years ago. And he isn’t worried about the extra requirements. Some staff members have already been working on weekends to meet the needs of their clients, he said.
The salary increase covers only the agencies that heavily rely on city funding. Nonprofits or programs that get most of their money from the state, such as Medicaid programs, are not included.