Disabled Missourians Need Help

On Tuesday, more than two dozen Republicans joined Democrats in support of a proposal that would have added $308 million to the Missouri budget in order to assist local agencies with their critical staffing needs. However, the proposal fell just two votes short of passing.

The amendment from Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Manchester, would have increased rates for direct care providers to allow an 8.7% pay raise for employees who help people with disabilities in their daily lives.

On the 71-73 vote, the unified Democratic majority was joined by 28 Republicans willing to buck House Budget Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, who did not lose a vote on any amendment he opposed during Tuesday’s eight hour budget debate.

Many of the providers who would receive increased pay were given a boost in state payments last year, Smith told the House. He also opposed using funds that would have to be replaced with general revenue in future years to maintain the higher rates.

In 2022 starting pay for direct care workers in Missouri increased to $15 an hour. $3 more than the state’s minimum wage of $12.00. In many states, it is possible to earn more money working in a fast food restaurant than in a direct care position. Unfortunately, low wages make it difficult to find staff. Unsurprisingly, in 2019, Missouri had a staff turnover rate of 50% when it came to direct support staff, an issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic according to industry providers.

Last year, Maddy Williams had waited more eight months for placement in independent supported living. The 18-year-old has autism. Her mother needed to return to the workforce.

As of last January, more than 500 Missourians with disabilities are on a waiting list for services. Without proper staffing, many in-home and group home providers have stopped taking clients from the state’s waitlist. The list has doubled since the previous July and continues to grow.

The direct care shortage is affecting millions of people across the United States. direct support professionals allow people to remain in their communities with friends and family. Care can’t wait because people will die without it!


Drake, Kayla. “Huge Staffing Shortage Leaves over 500 Disabled Missourians Waiting on Services.” St. Louis Public Radio, NPR, 28 Jan. 2022, https://news.stlpublicradio.org/show/st-louis-on-the-air/2022-01-27/huge-staffing-shortage-leaves-over-500-disabled-missourians-waiting-on-services.

Keller, Rudi. “Missouri House Defeats Effort to Boost Pay for Home Health Aides for People with Disabilities • Missouri Independent.” Missouri Independent, States Newsroom, 29 Mar. 2023, https://missouriindependent.com/2023/03/28/missouri-house-defeats-effort-to-boost-pay-for-home-health-aides-for-people-with-disabilities/.

Keller, Rudi. “Push to Spend $900m to Help Missourians with Developmental Disabilities Voted down • Missouri Independent.” Missouri Independent, States Newsroom, 24 Mar. 2023, https://missouriindependent.com/2023/03/24/push-to-spend-900m-to-help-missourians-with-developmental-disabilities-voted-down/.

Wallington, Natalie. “Missouri’s Minimum Wage Just Rose to $12 an Hour. Future Pay Will Change with Inflation”. The Kansas City Star, The McClatchy Company, 3 Jan. 2023, https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/article270711157.html.

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