News Council requests ARPA funding from Legislature for wage incentives, loan repayment

Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes urged state legislators on Tuesday to allocate millions of dollars in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to aid in recruitment/retention of human services workers and student loan repayment in the human services sector. 

Specifically, Weekes requested $174 million annually over five years for the former and $27 million over the same period for the latter. He also requested $250,000 to fund a marketing campaign aimed at increasing the awareness of jobs available in the sector, as human service providers grapple with a severe workforce shortage.

“Today, the workforce situation is perhaps as bad as ever; some programs have turnover rates that are at historic heights,” Weekes said. “When essential staff are missing from human services, the safety and health of clients and residents are immediately at risk. So we have to take some action, and we’re proposing a three-pronged approach.” 

Weekes’ requests were made during a virtual hearing on ARPA funding held by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight.    

Other members of The Collaborative — which consists of the Council, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare (ABH), the Association for Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP) and the Children’s League of Massachusetts (CLM) – testified at the hearing as well, including Tammy Mello of CLM, Lydia Conley of ABH and Chris White of Road to Responsibility, representing ADDP. 

The Collaborative’s full submitted testimony can be viewed here.

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