News Council highlights human services hiring challenges at Regional Workforce Forum

Community-based human services providers from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island held a virtual forum today to discuss the hiring crisis that is plaguing providers and forcing vulnerable populations to go without critical care, as well as to share their asks to state governments to help address the issue.

Providers in all three states — who contract with the state to provide mental health and addiction services, day and residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, domestic violence and homeless shelters and programs for people who involved with the criminal justice system — have long advocated for additional funding to meet consumer needs and in order to pay decent wages.

Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes told the 200 plus attendees that human services workers are leaving the sector to work not only in state government and the health and hospital industries, but even to work in grocery and retail stores.

Weekes noted that Costco recently announced wages starting at $17 an hour while Amazon pays entry-level workers $18 an hour. With the state only benchmarking human services  salaries to a median of $16.79 an hour, the sector, he said, “can’t compete.”

“Our sector pays less than a living wage, as the well-respected MIT living wage calculator determines that the living wage for a single person in the Boston area is $17.74 an hour,” Weekes said.

Testimony was also provided by Advocates President and CEO Diane Gould and Road to Responsibility President and CEO Chris White, as well as by state Sen. Cindy Friedman.

To read more about the forum, click here.

Weekes’ comments begin at 5:45, White’s begin at 13:14, Gould’s begin at 21:18 and Friedman’s begin at 27:44.

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