Leo’s Letter: The Workforce & Services: Where We Are Today & How You Can Help

In my September 30 blog titled “Rebooting the Workforce Initiative,” I also advocated for rebooting the way we deliver services. We have no choice given the workforce crisis we face.

There are individuals of different ages – youth, turning 22, and older adults – who have inadequate or no services. For those living with family (over 70% of those served by DDS are supported by family members), their caregivers have been on a 24/7 responsibility schedule for the past 19 months.

For young adults turning 22, it has meant waiting for options that are not accessible. Day and employment programs have been functioning at 60% capacity due to a lack of workers. Many of those previously receiving services are now receiving them part-time or not at all.

Here are three facts that demonstrate the crisis’ severity:

  • In Ohio, state officials are authorizing the use of staff under 18 years of age without a high school degree.
  • The reservation wage for workers without a college degree jumped 26% year over year in March, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Reservation wage is the wage at which persons will accept a position. They estimate it at $29.56 an hour.
  • Nationally, we were experiencing nearly 40% vacancy rates prior to the COVID pandemic.

At 12pm on November 1, I will be holding a special Leo Live session – “Adults and Turning 22: Addressing the Services Gap.” We want your help in addressing this crisis.

First, we’ll spend 10 minutes on why we face these challenges. It’s not just a workforce crisis. Our service system doesn’t incentivize more personalized options.

The session will include a dialogue so that we at The Arc can support individuals in this position more effectively. We know that education around advocacy is needed.

But just as important, individuals and families need ways to come together to address the services gaps. The solutions which arise may advance person-centered opportunities within the service system itself.

Register to join us on November 1 at bit.ly/LeoLives by selecting the November 1 session.

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