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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In an effort to improve the state of Missouri’s Direct Support Professional crisis, the Missouri General Assembly, with leadership from Governor Mike Parson made an investment of approximately $56 million on June 30.

According to an Easterseals Midwest news release, this investment focuses on increasing and standardizing disability provider’s wage rates throughout Missouri. Due to this investment, Easterseals will raise its starting wage to $15 per hour and offer up to $1,500 in bonuses for new employees in their first year.

“There’s nothing that compares to what a DSP does,” said Cathy Brown, vice president of public policy for Easterseals Midwest, in a press release. “They’re teachers, medical care providers, cooks, chauffeurs, financial advisors, counselors — they’re a very important constant in the lives of the people we serve. We want to be able to pay them a fair wage for their work, and this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

DSPs provide challenging, around-the-clock service. Because of previously low wages, a news release said, more than half of DSPs left the profession within their first year in 2019. The DSP crisis has left Easterseals with positions to fill.

The Institute on Disability/UCED reported there were more than 800,000 Missouri residents with a disability in 2020, a release noted.

Easterseals Midwest is a nonprofit organization that serves more than 5,000 individuals and families impacted by disabilities each year through four divisions: Autism Services, Community Living Services, Early Childhood Services, and Employment Services. The organization has several locations across Missouri. With 1,800 employees, it is the leading nonprofit provider of disability services in the Midwest.

“We can’t say this is just ‘mission accomplished’ quite yet,” Brown said. “But this gets us so much closer to being able to pay a competitive wage and stabilizing a workforce that’s been in crisis for years.”

Easterseals Midwest is currently hiring for several positions throughout Missouri. If you or someone you know is interested, visit www.joineasterseals.com.

For more information about Easterseals Midwest, visit www.easterseals.com/midwest.

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