The Arc of Massachusetts Workforce Initiative
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) depend on the Direct Support Professionals (DSP) workforce to live successful, integrated lives in communities across Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there is currently a DSP workforce shortage crisis, which means that the workforce is getting smaller as the need for services by people with I/DD and their families increases. The national turnover rate for the DSP workforce is an estimated 46%, with about 38% leaving in the first six months and approximately 21% leaving within 6-12 months. 72% of Massachusetts human service providers report that it has become increasingly more challenging to fill job openings over the past three years. Low wages and poor benefits, along with other contributing factors, have led to a high turnover and vacancy rates and the Commonwealth must act now to turn things around.
We propose a four-fold strategy to the Administration and State Legislature to help combat the workforce crisis:
- A significant investment over the next four years to achieve the necessary entry and mean salary levels and improved benefits to recruit and retain a stronger, more qualified workforce.
- Innovation and system design improvements, which will not only enhance supports or opportunities but will help offset increased costs for workforce. Innovation and system design improvements could include: implementing the Individuals and Families First program including self or family-directed options; closing existing institutions; employing technology for individuals’ advancement and service system improvements; reviewing current state regulations and safeguards for both adequacy and redundancy; and expanding best practices in preparing children or teens for adult life.
- Implement a blended funding strategy with Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and Medicaid funded entities (MassHealth, One Care Insurers, Accountable Care Organizations, etc.) to develop clinical teams across regions to ensure that agencies, families and other caregivers supporting individuals with I/DD have access to professionals and related equipment for medical, dental and behavioral needs.
- Address the development of human capital in recruitment, training and retention.
The Arc of Massachusetts has committed to make the Workforce initiative a top priority in partnership with other stakeholders. We believe that a viable workforce is fundamental to all our policy issues.
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