Michigan’s Direct Care Workers Receive Continuing
For Immediate Release
September 23, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Van Koevering,
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.
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.
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
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.