Commentary: Nonprofit child welfare organizations face severe labor shortage
Michigan’s essential family services, such as adoption and juvenile justice facilities, face a severe labor shortage.
While the labor shortage has been a chronic problem for Michigan’s accredited nonprofit child welfare agencies, COVID-19 has made matters worse.
As a member of the Association of Accredited Child Welfare Agencies, I speak from experience when I tell you that we are constantly looking to hire skilled workers.
Unfortunately, a major obstacle to filling our vacancies is that the state dictates and caps the cost of care in terms of reimbursement for direct care services.
A similar cap does not exist for state-run facilities, which means that while we can afford to start hiring between $ 10 and $ 12 an hour, the state of Michigan hires workers with similar qualifications for its state-run facilities from $ 18 to $ 20 per year. time.
Nonprofit accredited child welfare agencies also compete for hourly workers with Amazon, which pays $ 15 to $ 17.50 an hour in Michigan, or Meijer, which offers $ 13 to $ 15 an hour, according to recent research on Indeed. com.
This creates a major competitive disadvantage with state facilities or even fast food chains, which pay workers $ 10 to $ 13 an hour, depending on location.
Employees of accredited nonprofit child welfare agencies work around the clock and are responsible for caring for children with a wide range of needs. Working in our industry allows people to make a real difference in the lives of children and families.
And our highly skilled frontline workers play a vital role in supporting Michigan families, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to meet the growing needs of Michigan’s children and families, policymakers must explore funding equity to help us address this severe labor shortage.
Research shows that investing in accredited Michigan nonprofit child welfare agencies will pay dividends for Michigan children, families, and taxpayers.
Nonprofit accredited child welfare agencies are a vital part of Michigan’s child welfare system, from providing mental health services to young people to bringing families together through adoptions.
Through our nationally accredited status, we meet the highest standards for safety and positive outcomes, and our deep experience in Michigan gives us expertise regarding the needs of children and families.
Equity in funding would better equip our agencies looking to hire Michigan workers and provide fair compensation for essential work.
In the meantime, Michigan residents looking to work with an accredited non-profit child welfare agency should visit the AACFA website where there is a link to jobs available at our member organizations.
Judith Fischer Wollack is President of the Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies and CEO of Wolverine Human Services.