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Asking our Legislators to Close the Gap

posted by Katie Slade on Friday, December 9, 2022

On December 9, EPI joined forces with Goodwill Industries of Northeast Iowa, The Larabee Center Inc. and North Star Community Services for an opportunity to speak to local legislators and give an inside look at the critical services provided to people with differing abilities.

Together we made one ask - for additional state financial support to close the gap between DSPs and other entry-level jobs in order to attract and maintain quality DSPs.

Here's why we're making that ask...

Becoming a Direct Support Professional is the Largest, Fastest Growing Profession.
According to the PHI National "occupations with most job growth" graph below, DSPs are the largest and fastest growing profession in the United States. This is due to a combination of factors, including the rapidly growing population of older adults, consumer preferences for aging and receiving care in place, and the increasing provision of home and community based services (HCBS).

Despite Growth, Wages are Still Low.
Despite recent wage growth - particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic - home care wages are still remarkably low and a large number of workers live in low income households.

Workforce in Crisis.
In the context of persistently high turnover and a historically tight labor market, home care employers are struggling more than ever to recruit and retain enough workers to meet escalating demand.

Workforce Shortage Jeopardizing Access to Services.
Latest ANCOR study found, due to the persistent workforce shortage, 83% of providers are turning away new referrals (a 25.8% increase since the pandemic). Sixty three percent (63%) are discontinuing services and 55% are considering more closures. This means people going without the services they need.

Sustain Financial Support to Strengthen our Workforce.
Additional State financial support is needed to sustain wage temporary increases received through ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) and close the wage gap between DSPs and other entry-level jobs in order to attract and maintain quality DSPs. The fate of vulnerable Iowans is literally hanging in the balance and there is a devastating, system collapsing fiscal cliff effect to come when the temporary funding from ARPA expires.

Without such funding, important services will be cut. Without such funding, our agencies are put in a difficult position; shoulder a great deal of risk that isn't sustainable. They will have no choice but to limit services and/or close.

Please support increases to address the workforce crisis. This action will help community-based organizations like ours to improve the lives of Iowa's most vulnerable citizens.

We are so appreciative of Representatives Bob Kressig, Timi Brown-Powers and Sandy Salmon and Senator Eric Giddens for their time spent attending this event. Along with their continued efforts for our communities and the providers like us.

If you would like to take a peek inside a home within our residential setting - click here. To stay up to date with our public policy efforts, follow us on social or sign up for our electronic newsletters - here.

About The Author

As the Executive Director of Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI), Katie believes in EPI's vision of - working together we will realize a future where all people are recognized and valued – encouraged and supported to live, work, and grow – in their communities. At EPI w ... read more