Urgent: Contact Congress Today about the Interim COVID-19 Funding Bill
Today, Congress announced it is working on an interim COVID-19 funding bill to sustain small businesses while it works on a larger relief package that we anticipate will be debated in May. This represents an additional opportunity to reassert to Congress that funding disability supports is a matter of life or death.
The Ask: Use this tool to ask that interim COVID-19 small business relief legislation include funding for providers of I/DD supports.
The Details: Specifically, we need you to ask Congress to support funding that would:
- Stabilize Medicaid-funded supports so they remain operational during the crisis.
- Retain essential community supports currently suspended due to social isolation, to ensure they can reopen after the crisis.
- Supercharge staff stabilization, retention, and recruitment.
As reported by Politico:
Congress and the Trump administration are quickly nearing a deal on more than $400 billion in emergency funding for small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Senate expected to vote on the legislation on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday.
Word of the impending deal came after Congress allowed the small-business rescue fund it set up to exhaust its $350 billion funding capacity on Thursday, amid a standoff over Democrats’ demand that the package include aid for hospitals and state and local governments. It appears Democrats will get some of their new demands, but will have to fight for the state and local funding in the next round of aid.
Please speak up today! Your continued pressure was effective in encouraging Congress to include policies that strengthen disability supports in previous COVID-19 legislation. Now, more support is critical to address the needs of people with disabilities and those who support them during this crisis.
Pennsylvania’s largest workforce crisis | Opinion
Mark Davis is President and CEO of Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability. Indian Creek Foundation's staff works very closely with PAR to help address issues that impact our consumers and the people who care for them. This opinion piece recently appeared on PennLive.
Two out of five workers who care for people with an intellectual disability or autism (called direct support professionals, or DSPs) leave their jobs every year, largely due to the cripplingly low wages they are paid through government funding.
Recently, the 2019 version of the Fix the DSP Crisis video was released (watch it here), showing how the devastating impact of the DSP workforce crisis has continued to worsen. The video, originally aired in 2017, shows the stories of Joe and Keya, two DSPs who love their jobs supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism, yet who struggle financially because of their jobs. The 2019 version reveals the devastating update that both Joe and Keya left the jobs they love as DSPs because they couldn’t make ends meet.
DSPs provide hands-on supports and services to Pennsylvanians with autism or intellectual disabilities. Their work is complex, nuanced and skilled – supporting community activities, teaching hygiene, administering medications and caring for other medical needs, providing transportation, offering employment supports, and helping people live in their communities.
Over the last few decades, as individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities have transitioned away from isolated settings in state-run institutions to privately run providers within the community, funding for community-based services has not matched the commitment that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made to these individuals when our society began the transition in the 1960s.
The result is horrifyingly low wages for the workers who support these valuable and vulnerable members of our community – wages that force many workers to live in poverty despite working long hours of overtime and often multiple jobs – and a devastating workforce crisis that threatens the viability of community-based services for people with autism or an intellectual disability.
In 2018, 38 percent of staff turned over (more than 20,000 positions), and 20 percent of positions were left vacant (more than 13,000 positions), as noted in the 2019 “Fix the DSP Crisis” video.
The 2018 Pennsylvania DSP Compensation Study showed that providers are good stewards of the funding allocated by the government. The 2017-2018 state budget included the first rate increase for these services in 10 years, which was a direct outcome of intense advocacy from this community all over the state. As a result of that advocacy, as well as a commitment from the General Assembly and Gov. Wolf, 90 percent of DSPs received an average of a $1 hourly wage increase. This was a huge achievement, yet wages are still not adequate, and the 2018 DSP Compensation Study revealed that the increase was not enough to prevent the DSP workforce crisis from deepening.
The opportunity to help Fix the DSP Crisis with additional funding is with the General Assembly this year again. These services are almost 100 percent funded by government.
I urge our Pennsylvania legislators to watch the 2019 Fix the DSP Crisis video and include funding in this year’s budget to raise DSP wages and help Fix the DSP Crisis.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DSP WORKFORCE CRISIS
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) like Joe and Keya support Pennsylvanians with autism or intellectual disability. Since this video was aired in 2017, both Joe and Keya have left the jobs they love because they couldn't support themselves and their families on DSP wages. You can help Fix the DSP Crisis! Visit FixTheDSPCrisis.com.