Leo’s Letter: Time To Act

This is the time. Years of minimal rate increases have resulted in chronic vacancies in direct care positions in our disability sector. Nationally, before COVID-19, turnover rates were higher than 40%. But add the Commonwealth’s red hot real estate market to the mix, and you can imagine the crisis many families, individuals, and agencies face.

Today, as our state re-opens, many agencies cannot hire staff, and recent graduates needing adult services find themselves waiting in line for services after months of relative isolation.

The jobs in our field are meaningful and rewarding. They also carry significant responsibilities, such as health monitoring, assisting in personal or functional needs, and advancing inclusion.

But people also need a living wage. Wages barely above minimum wage and on par with fast food jobs belie the value of the work.

Over the next few weeks, we hope you will use your voice so we can convince policy makers to make changes that will address the workforce crisis with long-term solutions!

RELATED: The Arc of Massachusetts’ Statement Regarding the Direct Support Workforce Crisis (June 16, 2021)


  1. Just had a zoom meeting with my sons adult services program. He has been without services for 16 months and there is no solid info as to when he can return to his program. This is shocking and horrifying! He had been receiving specialized support services’.and needs to get back to program.
    I think autism groups should contact the state gov’t and ask for money to attract potential workers to work with the disabled. ( are there any state funds that were earmarked for 20/21 and were not used?? Due to very low hourly pay there are very very few candidates applying for jobs in adult day programs. And the ones who do take the jobs get very little pay for the responsibilities they have and the work they do for all types of work they do.

    • I agree with Nancy. My son is in the same boat. He has a job but he can not go because he can not find a job coach

  2. I agree with everything Nancy (above)said. My son is in the same boat. He has a job and the funding but he can’t get a job coach.

  3. Advocacy is great, but we need actual action. Not only do we need action but we need to see the legislation proposed and signed by the Governor increasing wages set by the Commonwealth for PCAs under MassHealth, increases in supports to families under DDS, increases in wages for services supported under DMH, DPH, and many more. Without that, parents will not be able to work and will be living on welfare or on the streets, and how does a family live on the streets with a child with an intellectual disability and/or autism? That is a bigger cost to the system than increasing liveable wages to deserving employees.

  4. Please tell me how I can help. By signing the petitions I receive?
    Which representatives to call or email?
    What else?
    Thank you

  5. Bravo for spotlighting this crisis. Well said! How can we access some of the federal funds going to state and local governments to raise the salaries of direct care staff? Our son is at Cape Abilities where staffing shortages are critical. Here on the Cape, direct care staff can earn more by working in restaurants, bars and hotels. Federal funds can help close the huge pay gap.

  6. How can we access the federal funds going to the state in order to close the pay gap?

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