An Essential Caring Force Deserves Our Gratitude
During this past year, we have seen a number of workforce sectors celebrated for their heroic and steadfast commitment to their respective professions. One of the quiet but dependable and essential sectors that has had less publicity is our human service workforce.
In Massachusetts, workers in more than 180,000 human services jobs kept providing critical services throughout the pandemic, and cared for the most vulnerable of the Commonwealth’s residents, 24/7, no matter what. Human service workers care for adults with substance use, mental health and developmental disabilities; they serve adolescents, veterans and domestic violence victims who need additional supports. They work in group home settings, outpatient clinics, food pantries, shelters and drop-in centers and even go into the homes of individuals and families who need extra support navigating life’s challenges. They help people to remain in the least restrictive, most independent settings possible, and they have long been undercompensated, in part because the general public is not aware of how essential these services are. They are disproportionately women and people of color.
We are launching a two-stage campaign to thank human service workers and bring public awareness to this workforce, as well as to advance legislation that will improve compensation and benefits to these selfless and dedicated individuals. Improved compensation will result in reduced turnover, more experienced staff on the frontlines of our industry, and eliminate the need for so many of our workers to have two full time jobs just to make ends meet. One job should be enough, especially when it is so important; there are lives in the balance.