Community Residential Services (CRS) assists adults with disabilities living in the community while providing important individualized supports. Community Residential Programs are the lowest cost options to taxpayers. Alternatives like State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA) and Residential Rehabilitation Centers (RHC) are substantially more expensive to taxpayers.
The CRS program has historically been funded at a level that allows for wages just above minimum wage. With the passage of Initiative 1433 increasing minimum wage to $11.00 per hour, it is now impossible to maintain competitive wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSP). Statewide turnover for DSPs already exceeds 50%, and the number will likely increase.
Supported Living and Group Homes, the primary services of CRS, save the state and taxpayers a substantial amount of money while providing consistent services to those they serve. Supported Living services provide stable residential structures so that individuals with disabilities can pursue their personal goals and live fulfilling adult lives. Community Residential programs serve individuals in the state who qualify for State support under the Medicaid Basic Waiver at an average cost of $299.09 per day. This cost is significantly lower than State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA) at $533.07 per day and Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC) at $670.44 per day.
Because of the difficulties in hiring and retaining DSPs, many agencies cannot accept new clients and are forced to turn individuals away from the most affordable option of Supported Living. These individuals are then likely to receive services at an RHC, which is the highest cost option to the State. The inability to maintain qualified staff also places an undue burden on the individuals served, as their lives are disrupted by changes to their daily support staff. It is crucial for the growth and success of the individuals served to have consistent, skilled DSPs providing the highest quality care.
The Governor recognizes this dire situation and has included funds in his proposed budget that will allow for starting wages that exceed the minimum wage, thereby improving the supports offered to individuals with disabilities living in our state.