In your backyard: Will you speak up for people with disabilities?
Neighbor, have we met? We’re ACR Homes.
Our organization is one of several around the Twin Cities that houses and provides full-time care for adults with moderate to severe disabilities. We’ve been doing that for more than 40 years in single-family homes scattered throughout the Twin Cities.
We’re proud of the difference we’ve made in the lives of people with disabilities and the families who love them. You’ve been great neighbors to us over the past 40 years. We hope you can say the same about us!
Neighbor, we need your help today. We’re in a staffing crisis that has forced us to shut down some of our residential facilities. And the one in your neighborhood? Well, it could be next. That leaves some of our most vulnerable adults scrambling for alternatives.
We need your voice to speak out for them. Read on to learn what’s happening, and simple things you can do to help these neighbors at a critical time.
What’s the problem?
For several years, ACR and other organizations like ours have been struggling with staffing shortages.
Our wages are set by a state formula. Over the years, it’s become increasingly difficult to compete with other entry-level employers. Even with the quality of life initiatives we’ve put in place, these fixes can only take us so far. Now that retailers and food services are paying as much as $16-$22 an hour in starting wages, the situation has reached a tipping point.
In January 2022, the staffing shortage forced us to do the unimaginable. We gave notice that we are closing four homes, displacing 17 residents. That means 17 families are having to scramble to find alternatives with just two months’ notice.
This is not the life we imagined for Minnesotans living with disabilities and their families. For greater detail on the history of our staffing crises, read about it here and here.
What’s the solution?
The good news is there is a path out.
The Minnesota Legislature has the power and the funding to fix this problem. We’re asking lawmakers to allocate a small portion of the $7.7 billion surplus to help providers like ACR raise starting wages to at least $20 an hour. There are other actions, but that alone would go a long way in helping us compete with other employers, improve staffing levels and provide full-time care to your neighbors living with disabilities.
How can you help?
From one neighbor to another, will you help us speak out for your neighbors? Contact your lawmaker and tell them:
- Minnesotans with disabilities need support now.
- Minnesota is forecasting a $7.7 billion surplus.
- Increase permanent funding to boost starting pay for direct care professionals to at least $20 an hour.
This link will take you to messaging and legislative contacts, everything you need to speak out. You can also customize your message to your representative and senator.
Once you’ve sent your message, you can take it a step further. Spread the word. Post this to your network, and ask friends and neighbors if they would also give voice to their neighbors.
What do direct care professionals do?
Our direct care professionals are the unsung heroes when it comes to caring for people with disabilities. They’re our essential workers, and they deserve wages that reflect that. Our residents who live with moderate to severe physical disabilities count on our direct care professionals to help them survive, thrive and reach a high quality of life.
Theses staff are trained to provide extensive care, including:
- Assist with meal planning, preparation and eating
- Assist with bathing, dressing and other personal care
- Administer medications
- Assist with other medical treatments and therapy
- Drive them to appointments
- Assist with community inclusion and leisure activities
As you can see, our most vulnerable residents need around-the-clock care. It is difficult for families to take all of this on without support.
Invest in your neighborhood
As you speak out and speak up, think of this ask as an investment into the quality of life right in your neighborhood. This will help working families. It shows the direct care providers their work has value. And it’s a critical step in helping people who live with disabilities stay in a place they call home – homes that are designed and equipped to provide the round-the-clock care they need.
Watch this heart-wrenching video about the reality for family members who are having their services ended due to our staffing crisis: Services for People with Disabilities are on the Verge of Collapse