Coalition of PA Providers and Associations Campaigning for Funds to Help Alleviate the Health and Human Services Workforce Crisis
Pennsylvania is facing a human services workforce crisis and lawmakers in the state have the power to fix it
By: Catie Hillard
February 9, 2022 – Pennsylvania is facing a health and human services provider workforce crisis. Before the pandemic, Pennsylvania underfunded health and human services and the professionals that provide that essential care. COVID-19 has only made the workforce crisis in the state even worse.
Staff turnover is escalating with annual turnover at 130% within the first 3 months, vacancy rates are at an alarming 24%, and those that are working are forced to work long hours and face burnout. Pay is an issue as well, with most human services providers making less than $15 per hour. This is not considered a livable wage and because these services are primarily funded through Medicare, providers cannot simply raise their prices in order to pay higher wages.
The issue is not just limited to one field. Nearly every human services field is impacted by the workforce crisis, including intellectual disabilities and autism, mental health, substance use disorder, children’s services, brain injury, physical disabilities, and rehabilitation services, among others. There is not enough capacity to serve the thousands of Pennsylvanians currently receiving or waiting for these critical services. 6,500 Pennsylvanians with ID/A have lost day services during the pandemic and have not returned due to staffing issues in the state. Without these care providers, many family members have been forced to quit their jobs to provide the care necessary.
While the situation is dire, a coalition of providers and their associations have banded together to advocate for a solution. Members of the workforce crisis coalition include the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA), The Alliance of Community Service Providers, The Arc of Pennsylvania, MAX Association, Pennsylvania Advocates and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities, and XtraGlobex Inc.
These providers and associations have joined together to encourage Pennsylvania legislators to increase funding for human services professionals. The Pennsylvania government has billions of federal dollars and “rainy day” funds that could be used to raise wages to alleviate the workforce crisis. However, these funds remain unspent, leaving the workforce crisis to worsen. That is why the coalition launched a social media campaign on February 9th that will urge voters to take action and impress upon legislators the urgency of the situation to attract and retain direct care workers in the field.
To learn more about the initiative, click here.
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