A substantial investment in the workforce is needed across human services today, and for those of us worried about persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it cannot come too soon.
On Tuesday night, we viewed the documentary Invaluable: The Unrecognized Profession of Direct Support, which documented the crisis across the nation. How could we have allowed it to get this bad?
At the end of the movie, viewers were left feeling either more energized to act, or more depressed about the current state. Even Forbes has published twice on the topic since April 2018.
In Massachusetts, our high cost of living is driving staff out of the workforce. Over the past few months, I’ve heard of 30% and higher vacancy rates. In one recent conversation, when I said that staff vacancies meant that people are being assisted by relief staff who don’t know them, a manage responded, “What relief staff?”
Here, we know the solution is at the least three-fold.
First: people’s attitudes about government benefits need to change if we are to avoid tragic results. In one Forbes article, they forecast people realizing government benefits are critical: “businesses are realigning to a position that it is in fact better to have government be responsible for services” other than education. A revenue solution (taxes) at federal level is #1.
Second: the next priority will be to forge a coordinated recruitment drive [at least] in our disability services space.
Third: the last priority is innovation by increasing person-centered funding allocations and wrap-around supports, including clinical teams for consultation.
These solutions can be enhanced by bridging the technological divide in service delivery and communication advancements for those whose voice is not always clearly heard. This year, a boost of $2 an hour while addressing compression for staff with seniority and supervisors will be a start.
Our beginnings may be messy, but we can have an impact by advocating together!