Each year the St. Louis Arc determines the Legislative Priorities for the calendar year. While other items may arise, the Legislative Priorities establish where the agency will focus its advocacy efforts. For the 2022 year, the St. Louis Arc has determined three important priorities for our advocacy. Currently, our first priority needs attention from Arc families, participants, community partners, and advocates.
Current Focus: Funding
Appropriate Increased Funding at the State and Federal Levels to Fully Fund Competitive Rates for Individuals with IDD ensuring they receive the services necessary to be live, learn, work, and play in the least restrictive environment with dignity and respect.
Currently, the disability field in the state of Missouri is in a unique position. The federal government dispersed COVID-19 relief funding to individual states. Each year disability advocates ask for more funding; however there never seems to be enough funding for the state. This year there is funding available. At the state level, advocates, family members, community partners, and individuals can ask that funding be directed to agencies in Missouri that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in residential, day program, and employment settings.
What Does This Mean?
Appropriate Increased Funding at the State and Federal Levels to Fully Fund Competitive Rates for Individuals with IDD
A workforce shortage has contributed to high staff turnover rates, coupled with crisis level vacancy rates creating a system of supports that is at the breaking point. Unlike other businesses experiencing workforce shortages in the private sector, community service providers cannot raise their prices to offset the costs of recruiting and retaining workers. Community service providers are dependent on the rates set by the Missouri General Assembly.
We are asking our legislators to:
- Invest in strategies in order for home and community-based providers to recruit, retain, and advance the direct care workforce.
- Ensure community service providers have the resources to compete for essential direct care staff by paying wages that reflect rising minimum wage and inflation.
- Raise reimbursement rates for services for people with IDD to a rate high enough for community service providers to pay Direct Support Professionals at least 150% of minimum wage.
Why is This Important?
Now more than ever, the future of services depends on it. Agencies, like the St. Louis Arc, depend on Direct Support Professionals (DSP) to provide care and support to people with IDD. People with IDD and their families depend on DSP staff for care and support. The St. Louis Arc cannot provide services to people with IDD without DSP staff who are competitively compensated.
What Can We Do?
Reach out to your legislators and ask for the funding necessary to provide services to people with IDD. The state legislators will determine what the budget will be, so please contact your legislator today.