The governor's proposal for a $650 annual raise for eligible Missouri state workers is a response to the costly consequences of a high turnover rate among these workers (“Greitens is pushing new rules for hiring, firing," Jan. 29). Yet, this is not the only group of state-funded workers with low wages resulting in a high turnover rate.
Nonprofit direct support professionals, who provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities through organizations like Easterseals Midwest, are paid by state grants and also face these same challenges.
According to a 2017 industry report from ANCOR, direct support professionals experience an average turnover rate of 45 percent in 17 states, including Missouri. Additionally, 56 percent will leave an agency after one year, 35 percent within six months. Not only does this challenge the constancy of support people receive, the report estimates every vacancy costs an agency $4,200 to $5,200.
Below-living wages, set by the state, are the reason for this high turnover rate. By 2024, this field expects to need an additional 1.1 million workers to meet demand.
Last year, Easterseals received a $1.5 million cut in state funding. As corporations benefit from reduced tax rates and offer higher wages, turnover rates for nonprofits will continually increase due to lack of funding and an inability to provide competitive wages.
The direct support professional workforce provides vital support for our community’s most vulnerable. We need our state representatives to champion this cause and support fair pay for nonprofit, state-funded workers.
Wendy Sullivan • Ballwin
CEO, Easterseals Midwest
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