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Home and community-based spending plan could help direct support professional worker shortage

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 7:39 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida’s home and community-based service programs are one step closer to receiving funds to increase pay for direct support professionals. Under the American Rescue Act Plan, the state of Florida is devoting around 1.1 billion dollars to enhance home and community-based services across the state.

For The Arc of Alachua County, this money could mean the difference between continuing to provide care for the developmentally disabled or possibly closing their doors for good.

RELATED STORY: Rate hike for state direct support professionals could worsen worker shortage for The Arc of Alachua County

This comes after direct support professionals working for state institutions’ received a raise to 13 dollars an hour. Since the rate hike went into effect on July 1st, The Arc of Alachua County’s President and CEO, Mark Swaub, said the private facility has lost five more employees worsening what was already a staff shortage.

“They not only need pay increase for themselves so they can pay their bills, but they need help and more DSPs because we’re relying on too few people to do too much work,” said Swain.

With this new application for funding, Swain said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’re also very glad that Governor DeSantis and the rest of the state agencies listened to our feedback and made the priority capacity building and stabilizing of the workforce,” said Swain. “What we’re really interested in is to learn what the timeline is and the process will be to approve the funds and get them dispersed as quickly as possible so we can raise pay and stabilize the workforce.”

The Arc of Florida will be meeting with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Agency for Health Care Administration to discuss how much and when the funds will be distributed.

Swain said if approved, DSPs will immediately be getting a raise comparable to state employees.

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