MOHR impact
April 2022 Issue 2
As legislators enter homestretch, update them on barriers to accessing disability services
By MOHR President Julie Johnson
As Minnesota legislators return on April 19 following their annual legislative spring break, they will be entering into the homestretch of this session. The Legislature must conclude their work by Monday, May 23, meaning there are only five weeks remaining for the House, Senate, and Walz Administration to try to find agreed-upon compromises on legislation. If compromise is not found, the Legislature can simply adjourn for the year, given that they set a two-year state budget in place last year.

Closures, waiting lists, long-term solutions

Our state’s current $9 billion surplus, combined with great needs in health and human services presents an opportunity for our legislators to come together and make critical investments before they adjourn this session, and we must continue to push them to do so. Group homes are closing, many people are on waiting lists to return to day and employment services or access them for the first-time, and we must find long-term solutions before the system simply implodes. 

We are an interdependent system of services and supports that work together to ensure people with disabilities can engage in their communities and live their best lives.

There are still people who are unable to move forward with their lives, even two years after the pandemic began. They stayed home and have not yet returned to normal life. In a chain reaction, this causes enormous strain on group homes and families who are their caregivers. Without day and employment supports, individuals with disabilities are losing physical ground and cannot resume activities that help them stay healthy, learn, and thrive.

What can programs, families do?

Please reach out to your state legislators and provide them with a clear and current picture of the barriers to service access that your program is facing. Share updated information from your organization with your legislators on the number of individuals with disabilities waiting to start or come back to day and employment and services, the number of job openings you have, and the impact this has on the people who need services but cannot currently access them.

As legislators head into these final weeks of session, there will be many hard conversations and decisions about the long list of important and worthy health and human services needs that exist in our state right now. We need legislators to know that we understand they are being asked to address a number of important issues this session given how destabilizing the worker shortage and the pandemic have been for a wide variety of services in our state.

Invest in DSP wages, benefits now

However, our state is also currently facing a more than $9 billion budget surplus, and many of these issues are interrelated. Along with addressing other important needs, it is absolutely crucial that the legislature invest in wages and benefits for direct support professionals working in waiver-funded disability services - this session. Direct support professionals are a fundamental part of the services that support many people with disabilities in Minnesota to live their best lives. The state must take action to support paying these critical staff a livable wage. Without this, more and more people with disabilities throughout the state will be without access to meaningful day and employment opportunities.
In the NEWS
WCCO 4 News Nonprofits serving people with disabilities struggle to rebound amid tight job market
A need for higher wages
Alexandria Echo Press Disability staff shortages increasing due to COVID, wage issues
Owatonna People's Press Cedar Valley Services battle ongoing staff shortage, advocate for legislation change
Star Tribune Minn. legislators aim to tackle staffing shortages in long-term care
Inforum Employers turn to people with disabilities to curb labor shortages
Albert Lea Tribune Cedar Valley Services affected by staffing shortages
Austin Daily Herald 'It's a statewide problem
Pioneer Press/Disability Scoop Lyft program takes people with disabilities to work
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Call to member organizations- we need your help!
No matter your position, tenure, or geography, we need your voice, experience, and the unique contributions you have to offer! At MOHR, we need leaders (which includes you, even if you don’t think it does) of all kinds, at all levels, from (and for) all areas of the state.

Qualifications

Think you’re not qualified? You are! Think someone else at MOHR will figure it all out and do the work? Today— sure, but tomorrow and beyond? That’s where you come in! Think you don’t have time because you’re too busy?

The small amount of time and energy you choose to invest in MOHR now will pay you and your organization back immediately by increasing your knowledge-base, expanding your network of trusted resources, and putting you in the position to know and shape decisions that affect all providers. So, please make the choice now to contribute to the work and success of your Statewide Trade Association, MOHR, a volunteer organization managed by its members.

Getting involved is easy— volunteer to be a member on one of the many MOHR committees or subcommittees (see list and contact info by clicking -more-). These take on a particular area or project, and work toward a solution, recommendation or learning opportunity important to everybody in our field. -more-
Spring Training Conference May 19-20 in Duluth, register by May 4
Set for the Holiday Inn in Duluth on May 19 and 20, MOHR's Spring Training Conference offers instruction on multiple topics, including:
  • Branding and Fund Development
  • Star Services Rights and Person-Centered Summary
  • Healthy Sexuality
  • DSP Panel
  • Designing Day Services for the Future
  • Positive Spin on Redirecting
  • Accepting Change
  • Mentorship Panel
  • Basics of Health, Wellness
  • Five Secrets of Living your Best Life

The Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation - To Advocate and support members in providing meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities served.