The Crisis Now
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) deserve the opportunity to lead full, meaningful lives. But most need support for everything from eating, bathing and administering medication to job and life-skills training. That support comes from a statewide network of community provider agencies and their dedicated, trained workforce of direct support professionals (DSPs) — a workforce that is in tragically short supply.
Long before COVID-19, community providers were already struggling to keep and recruit DSPs because of significant underfunding from the state. The current “Great Resignation” only worsens the existing problem as qualified caregivers seek higher paying, less demanding jobs. Unlike retail or restaurants facing staff shortages all over the country, providers can’t trim back hours or close on certain days. People with IDD need consistent, uninterrupted care — most need it 24/7, 365 days a year.
DSPs have been risking their own health and family time daily to keep people with disabilities safe and healthy. Sadly, these frontline heroes continue to be among the low-income workers hit hardest by the pandemic’s economic and societal fallout. And, more and more providers have been forced to shut down programs or homes and turn families away who need and deserve support.
After decades of inadequate support, the state has increased funding to providers in steady increments over the past five years, including $170M in FY'22, a major portion dedicated toward implementation of the state's Guidehouse Rate Study recommendations, which provide a roadmap to stabilizing services.
This is a step forward, but not nearly enough to address the funding crisis facing agencies who care for people with disabilities. Additionally, historically high inflation has blunted the impact of DSP wage increases, and the percentage difference between the minimum wage and the state DSP wage rate has actually decreased over time.
The state must provide an increase of $246.8M to fully fund the Guidehouse Rate Study recommendations for FY'23.
Support HB4832 and SB4063.
Without this critically needed funding, the safety and well-being of thousands of people with disabilities is gravely at risk.