News Council thanks legislators for $30 million in ARPA funds for human services recruitment/retention and loan repayment

Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes thanked legislators on Monday for allocating $30 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the human services sector, during a hearing with the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities on the Council’s loan repayment program bill.

The legislature released its final ARPA spending plan last week, which includes $16.5 million for a loan repayment program and $13.5 million for a grant program for human services organizations to support the retention and recruitment of human services workers.

The full text of this line item can be found at 1599-2027, or on pages 18 and 19, of the attached Conference Committee ARPA bill (new bill number H4269).

“We all know that student loans in Massachusetts on average are around $33,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree, and it is a very difficult situation for those interesting in joining the human services field to work in those positions — which are generally low paid — while paying back their loans,” Weekes said. “On behalf of all human services workers who have student loans, thank you to all the legislators for your support.”

Additionally, the spending plan includes $39.4 million for human services rates — which is present at 1599-6903 on page 3 of the attached document — as well as $500 million to create an Essential Employee Premium Pay program to provide direct financial support to essential workers of not less than $500 and not more than $2,000 each. Workers at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level – nearly $39,000 for a single person and $79,500 for a family of four – would be eligible.

Weekes also told legislators that the Council would be pleased to be actively engaged with the board that makes recommendations on criteria for the grant program.

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