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“All hands on deck.”

That’s pretty much how it is throughout the crisis that many of our constituents, many of you have experienced. I can tell you that’s how we approach our advocacy, too. And we don’t do it alone: we do it with you, with our chapters, our partner organizations, and dedicated public servants in the administration and the general court.

The results on the workforce amendment are discouraging, but as you can see in this issue of Notes, there is still good news to report elsewhere. And we can’t stop now as the legislature finishes its work through a conference committee.

In the meantime, the question will remain: What will it take to achieve the goal to bring stability to our services?

  • More needs to be done to educate our legislature, as traditionally they have not been involved in the rate process. Two years ago, when the rate was set at $160 million, The Arc was alone in advocating for $60 million more to bring the rate change to 10% for that cycle. Other groups asked us NOT to task for additional funds.
  • More needs to be done with Governor Baker and the future governor. We now have the rate increase we hoped for in the past, but ironically, it’s not adequate given competition for workers in all fields.
  • We need to describe the range of constituents which the 257 rate system impacts – persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities, serious mental illness, children, and teens, etc.
  • As part of the solution, we may need a more diverse system of supports that allows flexibility in public funding to individuals and families and move away from such a strong reliance on a congregate system overseen by the state or provider entities.

The Arc has been there on the workforce. We recruited legislators to file amendments for day habilitation and AFC (working with other groups), and supported the 257 request from trade groups, meeting with many legislators and educating hundreds of families and groups.

Most recently, we worked with Boston 25 News on an April 28 news story. This past week, we worked behind the scenes with Ted Daniel as he reported on the workforce amendment being withdrawn.

Before the pandemic, we proposed a $17/hour benchmark for DSPs (and a $1 per year increase thereafter) and established a site on the workforce (2018).

We revised our workforce bill with ADDP and it focuses on our field only. We will file it together for the coming session.

The lack of a workforce marginalizes the persons we serve and those who continue to work. Talk to your legislator about your reality. Together, let’s push back from the margins!

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