The Caring Force Blog Heard at the Hearing!

Caring Force members have done it again! You used your voices and stories to let the Legislature know just how vital fair pay and the creation of a student loan repayment program are to you and the human service sector.

Earlier this week, human services workers told the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities that student loan debt had forced many of them to put their own lives on hold. At the public hearing, the committee heard testimony on An act to establish a student loan repayment program for human services workers (House Bill 163 and Senate Bill 56) and An act relative to fair pay for comparable work (House Bill 138 and Senate Bill 1077).

Kristy Buck and Michael Baker from the Key Program; Shannyn Pomeroy from Community Resources for Justice; Eileen Foley from NFI Massachusetts; Shaneika Martin from The Home for Little Wanderers; and Jennalyn Giles from HMEA each shared their personal story with the committee. The workers noted they accrued student loan debt on the path to do the work they love, caring for others. Each speaker was thanked by committee members for their story and service to the Commonwealth.

Fair Pay sponsors Sen. Cindy Friedman and Rep. Kay Khan (co-chair of the committee) both spoke favorably on the fair pay for comparable work bill that would eliminate the wage disparity between community-based human services workers and state employees doing similar jobs. Their statements were echoed by Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes; Bill Sprague, President/CEO of Bay Cove Human Services; and Lydia Todd, Executive Director of NFI Massachusetts. These executives shared both statistical data about the wage disparity in the sector and the negative impact they have seen firsthand.

There was incredible support in the room for the loan repayment legislation. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Jeff Roy, testified in front of the committee, as did Reps. Denise Provost and Mindy Domb. Additionally, Providers’ Council President and CEO Michael Weekes and Justice Resource Institute President Andy Pond offered supportive testimony, discussing the impact the student loan repayment bill would have on workers throughout the community-based human services sector.

Stories like the ones shared by Kristy, Michael, Shannyn, Eileen, Shaneika and Jennalyn are what impact legislators the most and leave a lasting impression. We know that there are countless stories just like the ones we heard on Tuesday.

If you would like to share your story on how fair pay and the creation of a student loan repayment program would benefit you, The Caring Force is here to listen. Send your stories to christine@providers.org, and we will begin compiling information to share with legislators.

Thank you for your advocacy! We look forward to hearing your stories!

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