May 1, 2014

ANCOR Names Sen. Middleton National Disability Community Champion

ANCOR Names Sen. Middleton National Disability Community Champion

Led the fight for passage of Minimum Wage Bill that Lifts Caregiver Wages

Legislation a National Model to Ensure a Sustainable Workforce for People with Disabilities

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), a national trade association representing providers of supports for over 500,000 individuals with disabilities based in Alexandria, Virginia, has named Maryland State Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton its National Advocacy Campaign’s 2014 Disability Community Champion. The award was presented to Sen. Middleton on Tuesday, April 29 at the Maryland Association of Community Services Annual Achievement Awards at the BWI Marriott.

In presenting the award, ANCOR CEO Renee Pietrangelo said “We recognize and thank him for his long-time advocacy on behalf of people with significant disabilities and for championing first in the nation Maryland legislation that ties an increase in the state’s minimum wage to a hike in state funding for a proportionate rise in wages for direct support professionals who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Addressing over three hundred people that included Direct Support Professionals, people with disabilities, and their families and agency providers, Senator Middleton noted that the legislation was critical because “This community could not afford to leave direct support workers behind. While some people asked how we could afford to do this, we asked, how can we not do it? When agencies are facing a 40% direct support workforce turnover rate, the most we did was stop the sliding.”

The Maryland bill, which is expected to be signed by Maryland Governor O’Malley, raises the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2018, and provides a statutory mandated rate increase for community service providers of 3.5% each year from FY 2016 through FY 2019. The 3.5% rate increase is expected to ensure that the reimbursement for direct support wage costs stays above the minimum wage.

“Direct Support Professionals, who provide supports that require skill, compassion and dedication, are not and should not be seen as entry level workers. Letting the minimum wage increase happen without the adjustment now in place would have done just that,” said Marty Lampner, CEO of Chimes, a Maryland based community agency that provides services in six eastern states and the District of Columbia. “Senator Mac Middleton stood with Marylanders with disabilities and Direct Support Professionals to ensure that they were not left behind in the effort to increase the minimum wage,” said Laura Howell, MACs Executive Director.

“As a society we must do better for this critical workforce, and the Maryland bill provides an important precedent for other states – and the federal government – to ensure that increases in minimum wage laws do not inadvertently harm the stability of the direct support workforce.” said Chris Sparks, CEO of Exceptional Persons, Inc of Waterloo Iowa, and Co-Chair of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign. “We are very encouraged by the Maryland law, and  look forward to sharing this legislation with the nation’s governors, and with policy makers in Washington and in state capitals across the nation,” said Daryn Demerrit, ANCOR National Advocacy Campaign Co-Chair, and Vice President of Government Relations for ResCare, a Louisville, Kentucky based national provider of services.

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) is the leading national trade association for providers of community services for people with disabilities. The mission of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities who rely on long-term supports and services by obtaining the resources to recruit, train and retain a highly qualified and sustainable workforce. For more information visit the campaign’s website or contact Barbara Merrill at bmerrill@ancor.org.

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