Advocacy

Information on MOKA’s Advocacy Efforts

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For Immediate Release
Contact:   Stephanie Van Koevering, 517-974-6065

Landmark Study Shows $52 Million+ Return on Investment in Michigan’s Direct Care Workers
Higher Tax Revenues, Lower Turnover Costs and Reduced Reliance on Public Assistance All Are Wins for State

A new study commissioned by the Michigan Direct Care Worker Wage Coalition demonstrates—for the first time—the true return on Michigan’s investment in the Direct Care Workers that specialize in behavioral health issues.

For an additional $1 per hour investment, ROI totals $52.6 million. For a $5 increase, that number grows to $261 million. Cost savings are generated by increased tax revenues, lower turnover costs, and a reduction in public assistance.

“These numbers demonstrate, for the first time, the real economic benefits that can return to our state when we solve our direct care challenges in the right way,” said Sherri Boyd, executive director and CEO for The Arc—Michigan. “When it comes to addressing the needs of our most vulnerable state residents and the people who serve them, we have a lot of work to do.”

According to the study, which was authored by Great Lakes Economic Consulting, a $1 wage increase would generate an estimated $4.8 million in additional state income tax revenue. A $5 increase would increase revenues by $24 million.

Currently, DCW starting wages are $11.75 per hour. Many fast-food and retail chains are offering considerably higher than this amount to their starting workers, which has led to high levels of turnover among DCWs.

“For every dollar Michigan invests in its DCWs, we can reduce our turnover rates by 2.87 percentage points,” said Todd Culver, CEO of Incompass Michigan. “This reduction can save $5 million per year for our state’s behavioral health care system, and—even more important—ensure uninterrupted care for the people who rely on quality care to lead their daily lives.”

Turnover has increased by three percentage points over last year, according to the survey released today by Incompass Michigan and the Michigan Assisted Living Association.

“Direct Care Worker salaries in Michigan’s mental health system are directly tied to Medicaid funding, which has not kept pace with the needs of our state—not by a mile,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “Many of these workers do not receive any medical or other benefits, and the work itself is extremely challenging. Currently, many DCW organizations are having to turn people away because they simply lack the staff necessary to deliver services.”

Raising wages for these low-wage DCWs also would reduce net spending on public assistance. The report estimates that 18,250 of Michigan DCWs receive public assistance. A $1 an hour wage increase would reduce public assistance by $3.2 million and a $5 increase would save $16 million.

Read the full survey report here.

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Contact Information

One Click Advocacy

Find Your  State Representative

Find Your Senator

Share Your Opinion with the Governor


Phone the Governor

PHONE: 517-373-3400
PHONE: 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services)
FAX: 517-335-6863

Mail the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Direct Care Workers across the State of Michigan need your Support!

August 27, 2021

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Michigan and their families rely upon Direct Care Workers (DCWs) for their daily support. Unfortunately, Direct Care Worker salaries in Michigan’s mental health system are directly tied to Medicaid funding, which has not kept pace with the needs of our state. Low wages coupled with demanding work has resulted in a statewide labor shortage and a critical gap in services.

Throughout the pandemic, the state has provided temporary hourly wage increases to keep DCWs on the job. These wages have been an essential element for us and organizations like us in the midst of Michigan’s ongoing labor shortage and must be continued.

We believe now is the time to stabilize the Direct Care Worker profession by ensuring their compensation is adequate to keep them out of poverty. We also believe a strong, competency-based training infrastructure is required to advance the profession in ways that ensure better outcomes for Michigan individuals with disabilities.

We encourage you to support this advocacy by calling or emailing your legislators and other key government officials to let them know how important Direct Care Workers are to your family member or loved one.

You can help by: Calling, emailing or writing your state legislators!

The letter below provides sample language you can use in your communications. We encourage you to personalize your letter by sharing a personal comment or story about how important these employees are to your family member or loved one.

The links on the right will help you find your representatives and share your opinion directly with Governor Whitmer. If you prefer, you can phone, fax or mail the Governor’s office.


Dear (name of legislator),

Direct Care Workers (DCWs) are first responders for many Michigan families whose loved ones are experiencing mental illness or who have a developmental disability.  Unfortunately, today’s statewide labor shortage (the result of low compensation and demanding work) has resulted in a critical gap in services.

Right now, many families are trying to go it alone, with many quitting their jobs to provide 24/7 care to their vulnerable family members. In other situations, we find aging parents trying to care for their adult children without any support at all. It’s an impossible situation with far-reaching personal, economic, and potentially life-threatening consequences.

Since our shared global struggle with COVID-19 began, the state has provided temporary hourly wage increases to keep DCWs on the job. These wage increases have been essential and must be continued—truly, they have been the only element helping us keep DCWs on the job in the midst of Michigan’s ongoing labor shortage. While we are grateful for your heroic actions in this regard, we know it is truly only the beginning. And we need you to understand that too.

At the same time, Michigan needs to develop longer-term strategies that support DCWs as they work to provide high-quality, person-centered care statewide. We believe it’s time to stabilize the DCW profession by showing them they are valued and recognized as the critical workers the state says they are by ensuring their compensation is adequate. We also believe a strong, competency-based training infrastructure is required to advance the profession in ways that ensure better outcomes for Michigan individuals with disabilities.

Both objectives are attainable if:

  • Michigan makes appropriate use of one-time American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to develop a necessary and professional infrastructure. While ARPA funding is comprised of one-time-only dollars, these resources present a tremendous opportunity for Michigan to develop a meaningful infrastructure for training DCWs. We believe this training infrastructure is long overdue and is essential to stabilizing the profession and providing better outcomes for those who receive services. Moreover, effective training will help elevate the role of DCWs, reduce turnover rates, and help with the development of solid career pathways.
  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides robust advocacy to increase the amount of Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage revenues. In particular, we believe our state’s Medicaid office needs to seek CMS approval to raise provider rates.

We greatly appreciate the support you have shown for Michigan’s Direct Care Workers thus far and hope we can count on your continuing support as the budget is completed this fall.  We must urge immediate action, as there are countless families who are facing desperate situations today and urgently need your help.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

 

Contact Information

One Click Advocacy

Find Your  State Representative

Find Your Senator

Share Your Opinion with the Governor


Phone the Governor

PHONE: 517-373-3400
PHONE: 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services)
FAX: 517-335-6863

Mail the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2021
Contact:   Stephanie Van Koevering, 517-974-6065

Direct Care Worker Wage Coalition Meets with Rep
Outman to Advocate for Local Families
Lawmaker Indicates Early Support for Increased Funding

As the Michigan budget continues to move through the state legislature, State Rep. Pat Outman (R-Six Lakes) took time to meet today with advocates backing the continuation of essential funding for Direct Care Workers.

“We very much appreciate the time and attention Rep. Outman is giving to this important issue,” said Sherri Boyd, executive director of The Arc Michigan. “His commitment to supporting Michigan’s most vulnerable residents and their families is a beacon of hope for those of us who care for and protect them on a daily basis.”

Michigan’s Direct Care Workers provide essential personal care, training, emotional support and respite to an estimated 100,000 Michigan residents with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. Although these workers historically have been paid less than they could earn at a local fast-food restaurant or retail establishment, a temporary COVID-19 hourly wage increase has allowed them to remain on the job.

“To reduce state funding for these workers now would essentially amount to a $2.25 hourly pay reduction,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “We very much hope the temporary increase is made permanent, so they can continue doing the essential work our state needs—providing high-quality care and support to vulnerable residents and their families.”

As state lawmakers work to develop the FY 2022 Michigan budget and appropriate federal COVID-19 relief funding, Rep. Outman’s support represents an important step in the process.

“Rep. Outman’s voice is highly respected in state policy circles,” said Scott Schrum, CEO of Residential Opportunities Incorporated. “Knowing he is in our corner adds to our confidence that our legislature will work to do the right thing by supporting Direct Care Workers and the people they serve.”

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We encourage you to support this advocacy by calling or emailing your legislators and other key government officials to let them know how important Direct Care Workers are to your family member or loved one.

For Immediate Release
May 5, 2021
Contact:   Stephanie Van Koevering, 517-974-6065

Direct Care Worker Wage Coalition Urges Full State Funding of Essential Care for Vulnerable Families
Permanent Wage Increase Essential for Michigan DCWs

After an important amendment to fully fund Michigan’s Direct Care workforce wage increase was struck down in the state’s House Appropriations Committee this morning, advocates and families are again calling for a permanent fix to support caregivers over the long term.

State Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp.) offered today’s amendment with the support of several other Democrat committee members.

“We are incredibly grateful to Rep. Brabec and her colleagues for their initiative and urge the full chamber to support this amendment when the budget reaches the House floor,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “If not for the temporary increases passed to adequately compensate Direct Care Workers during the past year, tens of thousands of our state’s families would be facing tremendous hardship today. And if today’s temporary increase is not extended into next year’s budget, these workers will experience a drastic pay cut and likely leave our state’s most vulnerable residents without the help they need.”

Michigan’s Direct Care Workers provide essential personal care, training, emotional support and respite to an estimated 100,000 Michigan residents with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.

“This is truly about whether or not our state’s leaders are willing to again provide much-needed funding where it can do the most good,” said Todd Culver, CEO of Incompass Michigan. “We’ve got a huge population of people in need, and it only makes sense to ensure we are protecting them by fully funding the workers who provide their care.”

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We encourage you to support this advocacy by calling or emailing your legislators and other key government officials to let them know how important Direct Care Workers are to your family member or loved one.

Gov. Whitmer signs supplemental funding to support COVID-19 recovery plan, additional work now needed to fully utilize federal aid

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2021 Contact: Press@Michigan.gov
Kurt Weiss, Weissk1@michigan.gov

Funding secured for wage increase for direct care workers, schools, emergency rental assistance, vaccine administration, and testing.

LANSING, Mich. — Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that supports the COVID-19 recovery plan she sent to the legislature in January. It includes key provisions of the governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, including a $2.25/hour wage increase for direct care workers, $283 million in federal emergency rental assistance to help ensure people can stay in their homes, up to $110 million in federal funding for vaccine administration, and up to $555 million in federal funding for testing and tracing.

“I think it’s great news that we’ve been able to get some of the federal funding available to us appropriated, including passing two of my key proposals to provide a wage increase for direct care workers and increased funding to help expand vaccinations for Michiganders who are 50 years old or older,” said Governor Whitmer. “However, the reality is that there is more work to be done and there are still billions of dollars in federal funding that we need to get out the door to help businesses and families across the state. The bills I received were not negotiated with me or my administration, and I continue to call on the legislature to ensure that we work together to ensure we maximize every penny that is available. There were problems in the bills that I had to veto, and I expect the legislature to step up to fix the bill to allocate all of the money so we can get back to normal as soon as possible.”

State Budget Director David Massaron also sent a letter to the appropriations chairs in the House and Senate, asking again for a joint meeting no later than Friday, March 12 where formal negotiations can occur, with the goal of getting the remaining more than $2 billion in federal funding appropriated. In the letter, Director Massaron shares his desire to provide meaningful help to businesses impacted by the pandemic.

“We are on a good path to recovery and our key metrics and numbers are improving, but we need to put the rest of the available federal funding to work, much of it aimed at helping businesses and aiding their recovery,” added Governor Whitmer. “The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and I thank every Michigander who has done their part in the response to the pandemic.”

As part of the MI COVID Recovery Plan, Governor Whitmer proposed $665 million to expand the state’s vaccine and testing programs, and $2.1 billion for schools. Unfortunately, the legislature inserted boilerplate that aims to block expenditure of these funds unless the governor signs separate legislation undercutting Michigan’s pandemic response. The governor has called on the legislature to return to the table to fully appropriate the more than $2 billion in unused federal funds.

Governor Whitmer proposed fully allocating $622 million for rent and utility assistance, but the legislature only provided $283 million – withholding $339 million that was meant to keep families safely in their homes and provide direct aid to landlords. The COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program replaces the popular Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) MSHDA launched in July 2020, which helped approximately 16,000 households across the state avoid eviction and get current on owed rent. MSHDA will administer CERA through its statewide network of Housing Assessment and Resource Agencies (HARAs), which will be responsible for working directly with tenants and landlords so that the rental arrearages are paid and housing stability is preserved. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/CERA.

Governor Whitmer also proposed fully allocating $2.7 billion to help residents feed their families, but the legislature only provided $600 million – withholding $2.1 billion in food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Michiganders can apply for food assistance by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges.

“Unfortunately, the legislature tried to prohibit expenditure of funds for vaccine distribution and the return to school unless the governor signs legislation stripping powers from the executive branch. Rather than these political games, we need to focus instead on how to best help businesses and individuals most impacted by the pandemic,” said Director Massaron. “Vetoes were necessary and now we need to collectively refocus efforts on the best way to get resources out the door to speed our recovery from the pandemic. I again encourage the chairs of the appropriations committees to accept my offer to get in a room and figure out how we can effectively align our resources with the need.”

In a transmittal letter, Governor Whitmer observed that the 48-day delay since the release of her COVID Recovery Plan necessitated immediate signature of the supplemental funding bill, but that legal review of budget boilerplate was ongoing. When the legal review of this bill’s budget boilerplate is completed, the governor will direct state departments to implement this legislation consistent with constitutional requirements. Governor Whitmer also disapproved two items in each bill, pursuant to article 5, section 19 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963.

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Michigan Governor Calls for Permanent Pay Increase for Direct Care Workers

For Immediate Release
January 27, 2021
Contact:   Stephanie Van Koevering, 517-974-6065

Whitmer’s State of the State Message Includes Proposal to Make $2.00 Hourly Wage Increase Permanent, Showing Value of Direct Care Worker Services

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer tonight unveiled a plan to make permanent a temporary $2.00/hour wage increase for Direct Care Workers, currently set to expire on Feb. 28.

Residential and vocational Direct Care Workers provide much-needed personal care, training, emotional support and respite to vulnerable people and their families.

“The Governor understands well what we’ve been saying for many months now—when this increase ultimately expires, our state’s historically-underpaid Direct Care Workers are going to take a huge financial hit,” said Sherri Boyd, executive director of The Arc—Michigan. “The 100,000-plus families that rely on these workers for daily care will be left facing a critical gap in staffing and support if this temporary increase goes away four weeks from now, as it’s currently set to do.”

A strong coalition of organizations has come together to support the need for permanent changes to the way Michigan’s Direct Care Workers are supported.

“This is one of the most critical issues facing our state right now,” said Todd Culver, CEO of Incompass-Michigan. “The fact that all leaders in Lansing can agree this is a top priority is a very positive indicator that we’ll be able to help keep Direct Care Workers on the job, supporting Michigan’s most vulnerable residents.”

Nearly a million Michigan residents rely directly or indirectly on the value Direct Care Workers provide.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Robert White, a parent advocate from southeast Michigan. “We have worked a very long time for the day when our residents with mental illness and developmental disabilities would be recognized at this level and are very excited about working with all our state’s leaders in the weeks and months ahead.”

Coalition members hope the Governor’s recommendation will be acted on in the coming weeks.

“As a coalition comprised of many deeply concerned members, we have been working toward action on this issue for a long while,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “This is a solution that requires urgent action before Feb. 28, so our state’s most vulnerable residents—and the workers who give so much to protect them—can continue working together for good.”

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We encourage you to support this advocacy by calling or emailing your legislators and other key government officials to let them know how important Direct Care Workers are to your family member or loved one.

Michigan Legislature Extends Direct Care Worker Support
Through Feb. 28, 2021

For Immediate Release
December 19, 2020
Contact:   Stephanie Van Koevering, 517-974-6065

Budget Supplemental Continues $2.00 Hourly Wage Increase, Showing Value of Direct Care Worker Services

The Michigan Legislature sent a supplemental budget bill to the Governor’s desk last night that showed continuing support for the state’s Direct Care Workers. The measure extends a $2.00/hour wage increase through Feb. 28, 2021.

Residential and vocational Direct Care Workers provide much-needed personal care, training, emotional support and respite to vulnerable people and their families.

“Our state’s Direct Care Workers do extraordinary work to support individuals and families across our state,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “Extending this hourly increase into 2021 helps ensure these caregivers can be more fairly compensated, even on a temporary basis. While it’s not the kind of permanent solution our state needs to address this important sector of our workforce, we believe it signals positive legislative intent and look forward to continuing these important policy discussions.”

To support the continuation funding, a total of $26.7 million in state general fund/general purpose dollars have been appropriated.

“This is an extremely positive sign about our state’s willingness to take on this important topic,” said Tracey Hamlet, executive director of west Michigan-based MOKA. “It shows our policymakers aren’t waiting for federal dollars to help address Direct Care Worker compensation—it’s important enough for us to take on using our own state funds.”

Nearly a million Michigan residents rely directly or indirectly on the value Direct Care Workers provide.

Senate Bill 748 now moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.

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Direct Care Workers across the State of Michigan urgently need your support!

December 14, 2020

As you may know, the temporary legislative $2/hour wage increase for Direct Care Workers is scheduled to expire on December 31.  The Governor submitted a recommendation for a supplement to the budget, which includes funding this increase for another three months (through March 31, 2021).

Now is the right time to raise your voice to help advocate for the supplemental request to be approved. The continuation of this wage increase is critical.  Not only to support the extra measures our front line employees are taking due to the pandemic but as a step towards recognition of the valuable profession of direct care work.

Due to timing and urgency, we encourage you to support this advocacy by calling or emailing your legislators and other key government officials to let them know how important Direct Care Workers are to your family member or loved one.   Please reference the following Crain’s Forum- Caregiving at a crossroads and the Bridge Opinion Article “Michigan direct care workers, families headed for choppy waters” when contacting your legislator. Please note there are multiple reports included at the Crain’s Forum link.

The email and phone script below provides sample language you can use in your communications. We encourage you to personalize your letter by sharing a personal comment or story about how important these employees are to your family member or loved one.

Email to Legislators:

Subject: Protect our most vulnerable by supporting Michigan’s Direct Care Workers

Dear Lawmaker:

As this legislative term comes to a close, you can protect our most vulnerable residents with one important vote. The $2 pay increase for Michigan’s Direct Care Workers, who care for individuals with disabilities across the state, will expire at the end of this year without your help.

Direct Care Workers provide essential care to approximately 100,000 of Michigan’s residents with disabilities and mental illnesses. Their jobs are essential, especially during this pandemic, and this pay increase has been critical in supporting those in need during the pandemic. Without continuing this wage, many Direct Care Workers will be forced to seek other employment, leaving our vulnerable residents without this critical care.

We recognize that the pandemic has created a very difficult budget situation for the State of Michigan, but we ask you to support these hardworking heroes who are changing the lives of our most vulnerable. Direct Care Workers are woefully underpaid and without extending the $2 increase into 2021, access to these skilled professionals will be nearly impossible.

Please vote to extend the $2/hr pay increase for Direct Care workers before the end of the year. Michigan’s most vulnerable residents are counting on it.

Phone script:

Hi, I’m ______________ from __________ and I’m calling to ask Sen./Rep. ______________ to support Michigan’s most vulnerable residents by extending the $2 per hour pay increase for direct care workers before this session ends.

Without this vote, individuals with disabilities may lose access to the care they rely on and that could be extremely dangerous. Lower wages will result in higher turnover and vacant positions within service providers, compromising the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Michiganders with disabilities already face too many barriers, let’s not make getting the care they need one of them. Please support Michigan’s Direct Care Workers and extend the $2 per hour wage increase past December 31.

Direct Care Workers across the State of Michigan need your support!

December 7, 2020
Governor Whitmer has submitted a supplemental budget request for the current fiscal year to the Michigan Legislature that includes an extension to the existing $2.00 per hour premium for Direct Care Workers through March 2021. The current $2.00 per hour premium pay increase is set to expire on December 31, 2020.

We need your voice to help us advocate for not only an extension of this premium but to make this premium permanent for Direct Care Workers who provide essential supports. At MOKA, we believe that the continuation of this wage increase is critical. Not only to support the continued extra measures our frontline employees are taking due to the pandemic but as a step towards recognition of the valuable profession of direct care work. Without extending the increase for Direct Care Workers, people with disabilities may lose the help and support they rely on. Lower wages will result in higher turnover, compromising the needs of people with disabilities.

We strongly encourage you to support this advocacy by contacting your legislators and other key government officials to let them know how important Direct Care Workers are to your family member or loved one. We ask that you please emphasize the need to make the $2.00 per hour premium pay increase permanent.

The letter and phone script below provides sample language you can use in your communications. We encourage you to personalize your letter by sharing a personal comment or story about how important these employees are to your family member or loved one.

Email to Legislators:

Subject: Protect our most vulnerable by supporting Michigan’s Direct Care Workers

Dear Lawmaker:

As this legislative term comes to a close, you can protect our most vulnerable residents with one important vote. The $2 pay increase for Michigan’s Direct Care Workers, who care for individuals with disabilities across the state, will expire at the end of this year without your help.

Direct Care Workers provide essential care to approximately 100,000 of Michigan’s residents with disabilities and mental illnesses. Their jobs are essential, especially during this pandemic, and this pay increase has been critical in supporting those in need during the pandemic. Without continuing this wage, many Direct Care Workers will be forced to seek other employment, leaving our vulnerable residents without this critical care.

We recognize that the pandemic has created a very difficult budget situation for the State of Michigan, but we ask you to support these hardworking heroes who are changing the lives of our most vulnerable. Direct Care Workers are woefully underpaid and without extending the $2 increase into 2021, access to these skilled professionals will be nearly impossible.

Please vote to extend the $2/hr pay increase for Direct Care workers before the end of the year. Michigan’s most vulnerable residents are counting on it.

Phone script:

Hi, I’m ______________ from __________ and I’m calling to ask Sen./Rep. ______________ to support Michigan’s most vulnerable residents by extending the $2 per hour pay increase for direct care workers before this session ends.

Without this vote, individuals with disabilities may lose access to the care they rely on and that could be extremely dangerous. Lower wages will result in higher turnover and vacant positions within service providers, compromising the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Michiganders with disabilities already face too many barriers, let’s not make getting the care they need one of them. Please support Michigan’s Direct Care Workers and extend the $2 per hour wage increase past December 31.

Michigan’s Direct Care Workers Receive Continuing
Legislative Support

For Immediate Release
September 23, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Van Koevering,
517-974-6065

Budget Bills Continue $2.00 Hourly Wage Increase Through December 2020, Helping Address Critical Worker Shortage

More than 100,000 Michigan residents experiencing developmental disabilities or mental illness were supported yesterday, thanks to the Legislature’s decision to continue a $2.00/hour wage increase for their Direct Care Workers.

Residential and vocational Direct Care Workers provide much-needed personal care, training, emotional support and respite to vulnerable people and their families.

“While this continuation is not the ultimate solution we need for Michigan, it is an important step along the journey,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “We are incredibly pleased that, even during these uncertain budget times, our state’s leaders have chosen to continue their support for essential Direct Care Workers and the individuals and families they serve.”

To support the continuation funding, a total of $40 million in state general fund/general purpose dollars are being added to $110 million in federal spending.

“This essential budget solution means we can retain essential staff, who have historically been paid around the same amount as fast-food workers,” said Tracey Hamlet, executive director of West Michigan-based MOKA. “This is unconscionable, given the dedication, skill and support they demonstrate each and every day. While we know this is a temporary fix, it gives us hope that more lasting solutions can be found with the help of Governor Whitmer and the state Legislature.”

Nearly a million Michigan residents rely directly or indirectly on the value Direct Care Workers provide.

“As we work to bring new people into this much-needed profession, the support of our state leaders remains essential,” said Ann Meldrum, director at Muskegon-based Samaritas. “Once we get some of these basic wage issues met, we can begin to take a longer view toward building robust career pathways in this important sector.”

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Michigan’s Direct Care Workers Receive Continuing
Legislative Support

For Immediate Release
September 23, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Van Koevering,
517-974-6065

Budget Bills Continue $2.00 Hourly Wage Increase Through December 2020, Helping Address Critical Worker Shortage

More than 100,000 Michigan residents experiencing developmental disabilities or mental illness were supported yesterday, thanks to the Legislature’s decision to continue a $2.00/hour wage increase for their Direct Care Workers.

Residential and vocational Direct Care Workers provide much-needed personal care, training, emotional support and respite to vulnerable people and their families.

“While this continuation is not the ultimate solution we need for Michigan, it is an important step along the journey,” said Robert Stein, general counsel for the Michigan Assisted Living Association. “We are incredibly pleased that, even during these uncertain budget times, our state’s leaders have chosen to continue their support for essential Direct Care Workers and the individuals and families they serve.”

To support the continuation funding, a total of $40 million in state general fund/general purpose dollars are being added to $110 million in federal spending.

“This essential budget solution means we can retain essential staff, who have historically been paid around the same amount as fast-food workers,” said Tracey Hamlet, executive director of West Michigan-based MOKA. “This is unconscionable, given the dedication, skill and support they demonstrate each and every day. While we know this is a temporary fix, it gives us hope that more lasting solutions can be found with the help of Governor Whitmer and the state Legislature.”

Nearly a million Michigan residents rely directly or indirectly on the value Direct Care Workers provide.

“As we work to bring new people into this much-needed profession, the support of our state leaders remains essential,” said Ann Meldrum, director at Muskegon-based Samaritas. “Once we get some of these basic wage issues met, we can begin to take a longer view toward building robust career pathways in this important sector.”

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Help make Wage Increase for Direct Care Workers Permanent

September 2, 2020

Direct Care Workers across the State of Michigan need your support!

–Inadequate wages for these essential jobs have created a critical direct care shortage.
–Direct care workers have always provided critical, essential supports, while their wages reflect entry-level work.
–This workforce shortage has been increasing for several years and has only worsened for many providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
–Wages, which are tied to Medicaid funding, are too low. Many direct care workers make less per hour than they could in industries like food service or retail.
–The $2 per hour pandemic wage increase, which has been in place since April 1 is set to expire on September 30.
–Here is a survey from the University of Minnesota detailing the effects of the pandemic on an already dire crisis.

How can you help?
Please call, email or write your state representatives!

Ask them to make the $2 hour wage increase for direct care workers permanent in the fiscal year 2021 budget.
Feel free to use the below template and add your personal story of how the direct care workforce crisis negatively affects you; as a person receiving services, family member or direct care worker.

Sample Advocacy Letter

Dear (name of legislator),

Thank you for recognizing that the work of direct care workers is essential for thousands of people who rely on them.  They put themselves at risk daily by serving on the frontlines of this crisis and we are grateful for the temporary pay increase allocated to this critical workforce.

As you know, this increase is scheduled to expire on September 30.  The added risks direct care workers are bearing daily because of this pandemic will not likely end with the expiration of this increase on September 30.

Many service providers are also experiencing further reduction in an applicant pool that was already rapidly dwindling pre-COVID-19.  I am hopeful the State of Michigan will deal with the very real impacts coronavirus is having on this industry in compromising ability to provide care now and in the future to some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

I am specifically asking you to make the $2.00 per hour wage increase to direct care wages permanent in the state’s FY21 budget.

We ask for your support as quickly as possible. Making the temporary wage increase for direct care workers permanent would go a long way toward addressing the persistent critical shortage of direct care workers.  Without the continuation of this wage increase, this already fragile sector of our healthcare system is in severe jeopardy.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Contact Information

Find Your Representative

Share Your Opinion with the Governor


Phone the Governor

PHONE: 517-373-3400
PHONE: 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services)
FAX: 517-335-6863

Mail the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909


Michigan Legislature Passes Senate Bill 690 – Extends $2.00 Per Hour Increase Through September 30, 2020

Thank you to those who took the time to contact their representative regarding Senate Bill 690. The Michigan Legislature passed the bill, which extends the $2.00 per hour increase for direct care workers through September 30th, 2020. We are very grateful for the extension of the existing premium through the end of the fiscal year. Again, thank you! Your advocacy is appreciated and encouraging. You can read more details on the bill by clicking here.

Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Reestablishing the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-130, which reestablishes the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council. This order will ensure compliance with current requirements under federal law and strengthen working relationships among the Council and entities providing services to individuals with disabilities, centers for independent living and other programs. The order takes effect July 15, 2020.

“Living with a disability in no way diminishes a person’s right to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to society and pursue a meaningful career,” Governor Whitmer said. “I’m reestablishing the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council to ensure Michiganders with disabilities can enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational institutions of our society.”

The Council will be comprised of members who provide statewide representation, represent a broad range of individuals with disabilities from diverse backgrounds and are knowledgeable about centers for independent living and independent living services. Most of the members of the Council must be individuals with disabilities who are not employed by a center for independent living or any agency of the State of Michigan.

The Council will be made up of 11 voting members appointed by the governor, including:

  • One director of a center for independent living chosen by the directors of centers for independent living within this state.
  • One individual representing parents or guardians of individuals with disabilities.
  • One individual representing advocates of, and for, individuals with disabilities.
  • One individual representing organizations that provide services for individuals with disabilities, including, but not limited to, private businesses.
  • Seven other residents of this state, including residents who represent the underserved or tribal communities.

The Council will also include five non-voting ex officio members appointed by the governor which represent a designated state entity and representatives from state agencies providing services for individuals with disabilities.

Anyone interested can apply for the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council by going to Michigan.gov/appointments and click ‘apply now’ under boards and commissions. You will be able to choose Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) under the appointment information tab within the application. Applications are due by Wednesday, July 8.

To view Executive Order 2020-130, click the link below:

Advocating for Increased Wages – May 18th Update

On Wednesday afternoon, May 13th, the Michigan Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 690, providing $508 million in supplemental appropriations for the year.  Included in this bill would be increased pay for frontline workers; funding for testing and personal protection equipment; unemployment agency support; and, most importantly, a $3/hour increase to direct care worker wages. The rate increase would be retroactive to April 1st and go on through the end of the fiscal year (September 2020).  While it’s not yet fully clear, reports indicate that this would be an expansion of the $2/hour increase and not an addition.  Another $1/hour would be passed on to wages on top of the $2/hour premium already being paid.  And the timeline would be extended from end of June to end of September.

While this is very exciting news, this bill still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives and then signed into law by the Governor.  Please take a moment and contact your representative as well as Governor Whitmer in an effort to continue the process in making this important legislation a reality.  You can simply call or e-mail using the contact info below and ask for Senate Bill 690 to be supported.  This is expected to be voted on this week so please make your voice heard quickly.

Contact Information

Find Your Representative

Share Your Opinion with the Governor


Phone the Governor

PHONE: 517-373-3400

PHONE: 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services)

FAX: 517-335-6863

 

Mail the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Update on Temporary Wage Increase

Previously we let you know that we were working with multiple state-wide coalitions to advocate for additional funding from the state to support additional wages for our employees who remain working during this pandemic. We would like to thank those that took the time to reach out to Governor Whitmer, legislators and other key government officials to support this advocacy. Your support and advocacy worked as Governor Whitmer announced a $2 an hour increase for those who provide Medicaid-funded in-home behavioral health and long-term care services to Michigan’s most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary wage increase is in effect from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. To read more on the increase click here.

Continue to check this page for more updates as we continue our advocacy for a permanent wage increase for our Direct Support Professionals.

 

Advocating for Increased Wages 

As an organization, we have been working with multiple state-wide coalitions to advocate for additional funding from the state.  We are requesting funding specifically for additional wages for our employees who remain working during this pandemic.  You can support this advocacy by contacting your legislators and other key government officials, including our Governor.

The  letter below provides sample language you can use in your communications. We encourage you to personalize your letter by sharing a personal comment or story about how important these employees are to your family member or loved one.

The links on the right will help you find your representatives, share your opinion directly with Governor Whitmer and e-mail Robert Gordon the Director of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  If you prefer, you can phone, fax or mail the Governor’s office.

Sample Advocacy Letter

(Date)

Dear Governor Whitmer,

Thank you for taking bold actions to stem the tide of the coronavirus and protect our citizens. Unfortunately, direct care workers in the State of Michigan cannot work remotely, they cannot stay home. Their services are essential for thousands of people who rely on them for daily care.  While they do not operate in hospital settings, they care for high-risk individuals in group homes or other community settings. They put themselves at risk daily by serving on the frontlines of this crisis.

As you look at the resources the State is directing to the current public health crisis, please consider the importance and needs of direct care workers.  I am asking for relief from the State of Michigan to deal with the very real impacts coronavirus is having on this industry and in compromising ability to provide care.

There was already a serious direct care workforce challenge pre-COVID-19. The added risks will likely drive even more qualified employees out of the field, further compromising the ability to serve vulnerable populations now and in the future.

I am specifically asking you to increase direct care wages during this time.  A supplemental appropriation to temporarily increase direct care wages by $3-4, to an average of $14-15/hour statewide would help to stabilize this workforce by showing them they are valued and recognized as the critical infrastructure workers the state says they are.

We ask for your support as quickly as possible. Without these steps and relief, this critical sector of our healthcare system is in severe jeopardy.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

Contact Information

Find Your Representative

Share Your Opinion with the Governor

GordonR3@michigan.gov

 

Phone the Governor

PHONE: 517-373-3400

PHONE: 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services)

FAX: 517-335-6863

 

Mail the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909