Dear Governor Walz,
My daughter H has a disability (cerebral palsy/brain damage) and she lives in an ACR group home in Roseville. Because of H’s disability, she needs 24/7 care – ACR provides these services for around 200 people with disabilities at 45 locations around the 5-county metro area. Since 2018, ACR was forced to close 15 homes due to the workforce shortage (displacing 51 clients) and lack of competitive wages for this critical care work for our loved ones.
As a parent, I pray every day that H's home is not the next one that is forced to shut down because of the staff shortages, because of lack of appropriate funding that begins at $16.33/hour – this is not enough to compete with other employers that offer $20-$40 per hour for far less demanding work. Funding for people with disabilities comes from the state and federal human services budgets and with the current budget surplus it makes the new funding possible. Disability Services in Minnesota are on the verge of complete collapse – your help is needed to save it from that collapse.
This year the legislature will be tasked with making major decisions about Minnesota’s budget surplus of $17.6 billion and the many golden opportunities for spending the surplus on so many pressing issues around the state. After the legislature failed to agree on spending differences in the 2022 session, it is imperative that we have your support to stop the continuing collapse of group homes by fixing the funding issues within disability services in Minnesota and appropriately valuing the work.
The Senate and House Human Services Finance and Policy committees have put forth the Caregivers Stabilization Act (SF7/HF32) to inject critical funding into the Disability Waiver Rate System (DWRS).
This bill will:
· Fully fund the Competitive Workforce Factor to help make wages competitive with similar jobs.
· Use current data for Disability Waiver Rate System adjustments. (DWRS sets uniform rate – determination methods and standards for all disability-related services in Minnesota.) Current law determines DWRS adjustments based on data that is 30 months and 1 day old. This bill uses the most current available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Consumer Price Index.
· Increase funding for ICF/ID providers so they can increase staff wages. Service rates have been largely untouched for 20 years.
As a Minnesota resident, I ask you to please support legislative measures that fix this crisis going forward. The Caregivers Stabilization Act SF7/HF32 sends an unmistakable message that our disability safety net is in trouble, and we must take immediate action to ensure people with disabilities have quality care and maintain their independence. I urge you to support this Bill to provide the much-needed relief to the caring professions.
Now more than ever, Minnesota must continue to uphold its commitment to our individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities by providing adequate funding in support of career positions for Direct Service Providers. Please do the right thing for these Minnesota residents
Janet Smith (Mother and Guardian)
Join the Smith Family in their plea to get the Governor's attention!