Massachusetts is facing a workforce shortage crisis for direct support workers, which has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis affects staff support for families and individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism in home, day, employment and residential settings.
The Arc of Massachusetts (The Arc) and its seventeen Chapters are committed to identifying solutions to end the workforce crisis and ensure that people with I/DD and autism are safe in their daily living activities, assisted in their employment and social engagements, and are building bridges in their communities. The direct support workforce enables people with I/DD and autism to live their best lives, which ultimately benefits our society and economy, and their work should be appropriately acknowledged and funded. The Arc advocates the following:
- A significant financial investment by the Commonwealth to increase the entry and mean salary levels of the direct support workforce, using a transparent process based on predictable and current data, and improve the workforce benefits.
- A commitment to additional long-term solutions to achieve quality supports and services for people with I/DD and autism including but not limited to:
- Promoting innovative technology and system design improvements,
- Increasing rates for workforce recruitment, retention, and training to professionalize the industry and promote long-term careers rather than jobs,
- Addressing the lack of clinical and specialist teams required at each agency including the necessary funding to hire clinicians, such as nurses, at competitive pay levels.