While for many Labor Day weekend can be the last opportunity for a summer getaway, we must not forget that Labor Day is a national tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
It is also a time to continue our push for rights of workers and the disability community in Massachusetts and across the country. There is a workforce shortage crisis in Massachusetts for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to live, work, and contribute in their communities.
According to the 2017 Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) Survey, 92% of caregivers indicated difficulty with finding DSPs. In addition, 72% of Massachusetts human service providers report that it has become increasingly more challenging to fill job openings over the past three years. Not only is it difficult to hire support staff, it’s become increasingly difficult to retain quality staff as well. The national turnover rate for our workforce of professionals who support people with disabilities and their families is an estimated 46%, with about 38% leaving in the first six months.
To recruit and retain a stronger, more qualified DSP workforce, The Arc of Massachusetts has prioritized advocating for an increase in wages for entry level direct care or support staff. Additionally, we are asking the Administration and the State House for long-term solutions to achieve quality supports and services for people with I/DD.
Over the next few days, The Arc of Massachusetts will be sharing a collection of stories that demonstrate how the current DSP workforce shortage is hurting individuals and families. The full collection, entitled “Supporting the Direct Support Workforce,” will be released on Monday, September 2 – Labor Day itself.
To learn more about The Arc’s commitment to solving the DSP workforce shortage crisis, visit arcmass.org/workforce.