Direct Support Workers Legislative Agenda for the 112th Congress (2011-2012)

A well-trained, adequately compensated direct support workforce is essential to providing the necessary supports and services to our constituents, who constitute a very vulnerable population, where they live and work.  The current Medicaid reimbursement system, and cost cutting actions by state legislatures and Medicaid officials, has allowed states to create a workforce crisis hampered by low wages, a lack of health insurance, high turnover, and a shortage of staff.  These problems have been compounded over three decades, leading to a crisis that presents a grave threat to the lives of our constituents and their families.  Medicaid is the primary source of funding for the programs employing these workers. 

The 112th Congress must:

  • Ensure adequate funding so that direct support workers are paid a living wage, including appropriate benefits, at the same level of pay and benefits that states provide for staff working in state-operated programs.

  • Require that states develop and implement a plan to address all relevant components that drive the crisis, including low wages and reimbursement rates, high turnover, and inadequate training;

  • Require any state and federal minimum wage increases be reflected in state reimbursement rates for services;

  • Support authorizing legislation and continuing financial support to provide pre-service and in-service training and other relevant educational opportunities for direct support workers to meet the diverse needs of individuals with disabilities; and

  • Implement programs aimed at the direct support labor market to increase the pool of available workers and improve recruitment, retention, training, and supervision of direct care workers to better serve individuals with disabilities.

Legislative Agenda Partners

We are national organizations that serve and advocate for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. We work together to shape, expand, and protect a strong federal role that provides vital benefits, services and supports and assures civil rights for our constituency.