MCIL grant project to address PCA shortage

Daring to “think big” to address factors behind a critical statewide shortage of personal care assistants (PCA), the Metropolitan Center […]

Daring to “think big” to address factors behind a critical statewide shortage of personal care assistants (PCA), the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) applied for and received, a significant Community Innovation Grant from the Bush Foundation. The $208,000 award enables MCIL to deeply explore issues confronting the direct care workforce shortage and to build upon Minnesota’s work thus far in advancing solutions to solve the PCA worker shortage crisis. 

“MCIL is committed to removing barriers and promoting choices to help people with disabilities live their most independent lives,” said MCIL Executive Director Bethke Gomez. “We are at the forefront of engagement with the PCA workforce. Throughout Minnesota, those of us concerned about this issue witness daily the impact of the shortage on consumers and are mindful of the broader long-term implications on an aging statewide population. Our efforts will examine the importance of a third tier for Minnesota’s PCAs, a PCA Certification built on a credit-based curriculum that leads to a livable wage and a way forward that not only addresses the PCA worker shortage crisis, but also creates a pathway to prosperity for people who are PCAs.” 

“With the population of Minnesotans age 65 or above doubling to 1,262,000 by 2030, we must take this opportunity to work together toward a statewide solution that will address the increasing need and provide more Minnesotans a living wage in providing that vital support.” Bethke Gomez said. “Answers will be found through engaging constituents, identifying needed changes in public policy, advocacy, education, partnerships, innovation and building upon work already underway. The Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant encourages testing new solutions in addressing community challenges, devising thoughtful, realistic plans and making a significant, sustainable difference. It encourages participants to ‘Think bigger. Think differently.’ We embrace the challenge and are immensely grateful for the Bush Foundation’s trust in our work.” 

In March 2018, the Cross-Agency Direct Care and Support Workforce Working Group hosted jointly by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) submitted to the Olmstead Subcabinet a report that laid out a strategic vision for tackling the crisis in the direct care support workforce. A member of the Working Group and a technical writer for the 2018 Report, Bethke Gomez provided insight into crucial issues, considerations behind the direct care workforce shortage, and the impact on individuals with disabilities. 

With support from the Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant, MCIL will provide leadership in addressing two key recommendations from the report: 1) assess credit-based education and the value of additional credentialing as part of the program that would enrich basic skills for direct care and support professionals and lead to improved pay or career advancement, 2) provide tiered credential options and career ladders for direct care and support professionals. 

“Now more than ever there is a sense of urgency to address Minnesota’s PCA crisis and MCIL’s efforts to specifically solve this problem with its community and partners appears creative and forward-thinking,” said Awale Osman, Bush Foundation Community Innovation Associate. 

MCIL Board Chair Jeff Bangsberg, who also served as a member of the Working Group, said, “The Working Group’s report to the Olmstead Subcabinet brought a much-needed spotlight to the direct care crisis across our state. From rural communities to urban settings, the need is great, and the barriers to success are high. With the generous grant from the Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant, as well as MCIL’s leadership and collaboration with our partners and policymakers, we’re determined to bring credible solutions.” 

“Addressing wage disparity, along with education, enticement to join the direct care workforce, and retention efforts are paramount,” said Bangsberg. “We look forward to working on these difficult matters over the next two years and creating a more promising future for members of the disability community and those who provide direct care services.” 

Source: Metropolitan Center for Independent Living

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