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Politics & Government

State Senator says low pay for caregivers means Utah is ‘failing’ people with disabilities

Jake Anderegg
Ivana Martinez
/
KUER
Utah Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, chairs the Social Services Appropriations Committee. They’re considering more funding to help disability service providers attract workers.

According to a report from Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services, the typical starting wage for disability care providers is $11.45 an hour.

Right now, there are 930 staff vacancies the department is aware of. That limits access to care for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Department officials presented that information to the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday.

State Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, is the co-chair of the committee. He said fixing this is essential.

“I would imagine that, short of doing something that brings us up to competitive[ness], we are failing, as a state, these people with rather severe disabilities,” Anderegg said. “We’re failing them, and I can't imagine anything else that we would do in government that would actually have a bigger impact.”

The state provides care at the Utah State Developmental Center, but they also partner with private organizations for community-based care.

Nate Crippes, an attorney with the Disability Law Center, said getting more money to providers makes a big difference in whether clients can stay in their communities.

“What we're afraid of is, over the last 20 or so years, there's been a lot of progress made in moving people out of institutional settings and into community-based services,” Crippes said. “If we don't fund this appropriately, a lot of that progress could be rolled back.”

Crippes said advocates are pushing for $40 million in additional funding for providers.

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