HSC’s Workforce Campaign, under the guidance of the Contract Reform Committee, aims to improve the quality and insure the continuity of care provided by the human services workforce through a multi-tiered strategy that seeks to obtain regular cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) for not-for-profit human service providers.
HSC’s efforts have consistently led to additional workforce investments. In 2002-03 HSC’s Workforce Campaign was successful in persuading the State to fund an $86 million COLA and rate increase package for the mental health, child welfare, alcoholism/substance abuse, and mental retardation and developmental disabilities sub-sectors. In 2005 the City of New York agreed to a $70 million COLA package that included a 14 percent increase and $1,000 employee bonus for staff in the aging, child welfare preventive, and homeless services areas. Currently, New York State is funding a multi-year COLA in a number of areas, including aging, child welfare, health, and mental health.
Impact on Quality
Studies show that clients receive the highest quality care when their providers are well trained, experienced, and stay in their positions long enough to develop continuity in relationships. Recruiting and retaining qualified workers to care for our most vulnerable populations is increasingly difficult because of depressed salaries and diminished benefits. Regular cost-of-living-adjustments help reduce the adverse effects of high turnover rates and attract higher quality staff ensuring the provision of excellent care.
High leave rates among employees not only impede the delivery of quality services, but also result in efficiency losses. When a program has a high turnover rate, there are both direct and indirect costs. The indirect costs that result from reduced supervision, employee burnout, and the learning curves of new employees can be substantial, as can be the direct costs, which include expenditures on overtime pay and job advertisements. In the presence of high turnover rates, it often costs more to provide lesser quality services to fewer clients.
Despite the clear importance of the work of social service providers, they remain poorly compensated. Even more discouraging is the fact that these low salaries also fail to reflect changes in the cost of living. When these adjustments are not made, the value of a salary is lowered.
Through the Workforce Campaign, HSC will continue to lead the fight for additional workforce investments from the City and State.
"People who choose lives of service don't expect to get rich, but they should be able to provide for themselves and their families. The advocacy of HSC has been vital in improving their standard of living"
Executive Director/CEO, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies