News Council urges legislators to support Senate ARPA plan item to fund loan repayment, retention and recruitment programs for human services workers

The Providers’ Council has urged Massachusetts legislators to support a line item in the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending plan that would allocate a combined $55 million to create a student loan repayment program for human services workers and a grant program designed to help human services organizations recruit and retain workers.

In a letter sent to Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Ronald Mariano, Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz on Monday, Council President and CEO Michael Weekes said that line item 1599-2027 in the Senate APRA bill would go a long way to addressing the sector’s workforce crisis and ensuring critical care and safety for residents already receiving services.

Weekes noted that community-based human services workers fill more than 180,000 jobs in the Commonwealth and serve one-in-ten residents on behalf of the state, but salaries for state jobs in human services far eclipse similar jobs in the community.

“We believe these initiatives would greatly help the human services sector with its immediate recruitment and retention challenges as we work expeditiously with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to solve the systemic funding challenges that are in danger of jeopardizing essential services being provided to our state’s residents,” Weekes wrote.

Both branches of the legislature have passed their own versions of the ARPA spending plan — the House version does not include this line item — and will begin negotiating a final bill this week.

To read the full letter, click here.

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