JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Dozens made their voices heard inside the Missouri Capitol Tuesday by covering the governor’s door with sticky notes.
Members of the Missouri Centers for Independent Living (MOCIL) left hundreds of notes on the door to Gov. Mike Parson’s office, asking for a pay raise. MOCIL has 22 centers throughout the state that serve people of all ages with all disabilities. The notes demand a pay raise for Consumer Directed Services (CDS), which is where a family member, friend, or staff member is the caregiver.
“Those people and family members often are working that CDS service as a second job or third job or they’re having to quit their job to be able to stay home and take care of their loved one and that wage is what their income is,” Advocacy Chair of MOCIL Jennifer Gundy said.
The centers that form MOCIL are all non-profits that cover each of Missouri’s 114 counties. Funding for the centers comes from federal and state governments, grants and fees.
Notes posted on the governor’s door read, “Save CDS,” “fair wages for CDS,” and “invest in CDS.”
Gundy says some of the services these care givers are doing are helping someone clean their home, grocery shopping, transporting them and possibly helping them bathe or get dressed, but they aren’t paid a fair wage.
Last year the governor denied lawmakers’ request for a pay raise for CDS by vetoing the line item. This year, Parson put an increase in the budget, but Gundy said caretakers would still make less than $12 an hour.
“In the wake of COVID, so many people died in the nursing homes, so many people wanted to move out of the nursing home, so this program helps people stay in their own home,” Gundy said.
She said on average, employees make $3.99 a unit and a unit is 15 minutes. The governor is recommending $13.7 million in next year’s fiscal budget, which comes out to a 90-cent increase per unit.
“What we’re paid right now versus with that addition, it still doesn’t get our reimbursement rate high enough to be able to pay the attendant $12 an hour,” Gundy said.
Gundy is also the executive director of On My Own, a provider. She said MOCIL would like to give employees $22.72 an hour, which would require a $36 million increase on top of the governor’s proposal.
“Most providers have been in the hole for the last three to four years,” Gundy said. “We’ve been operating in the red and we can’t do that much longer. There have been many private companies that have gone under.”
The budget passed out of the House last week and is now in the hands of the Senate. Lawmakers have until May 6 to get their budget plan to the governor’s desk.