Right now there are 87-thousand unfilled direct care positions for people with disabilities in Minnesota, and the staffing shortage is being felt in Rochester. "We're literally in the fight of our lives," Bruce Remme, the Executive Director of the Ability Building Center (ABC) in Rochester, said. ABC, along with representatives from seven agencies that help people with disabilities, held a press conference Thursday to share that they are facing a staffing crisis. Direct care staff members are leaving for jobs with higher wages. In Rochester, the highest paid direct care staff member makes $12.07 an hour. Last year the turnover rate for Hiawatha Homes staff was at an all time high at 65%. With fewer staff members at all of the agencies, the workers are putting in overtime, and there are waiting lists for many people with disabilities who need the services. Some organizations are even at risk of closing their doors. "It's not very good." Nick Kiehne, PossAbilities Member said. "It's really not. I have a group home shortage too, and I would kind of like to have more people be there. It makes me kinda sad and kind of nervous because I don't know what's going to happen." Right now there's a bill being considered at the state legislature called the Best Life Alliance Bill. If passed, It would provide a 4% increase in wages for direct care workers effective July 2017 and 2018.
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