Letter - Show Appreciation for Workforce with Increased Salaries

By Jill Rasmussen, Community Care Alliance Board Chairperson and concerned citizen. 

I am writing regarding G. Wayne Miller’s recent article entitled, “Staffing crisis in behavioral health agencies leaves RI's neediest without services.”  Throughout my 7-year tenure on the Community Care Alliance Board of Directors, I have witnessed the organization address numerous challenges. By far, the greatest existential challenge to organizations such as Community Care Alliance is critically insufficient and delayed funding. Due to the inadequate rate of payment they receive, these organizations are battling daily to maintain adequate levels of quality staffing, which translates into nothing short of a humanitarian crisis, right here in our beautiful state of RI.

Make no mistake – these organizations and their staff are to be lauded! They never closed in the face of the COVID pandemic. They continued to offer in person services to RI’s most vulnerable populations, twenty-four hour seven day per week. They adapted by instituting public-health measures emphasizing the safety of both staff and the people they serve. Our lawmakers should be making every effort to support them and the work they do.

To be sure, the health and human service workforce staffing crisis began long before COVID. Both elected officials within the General Assembly and successive Governors failed to recognize that the projected savings from Managed Care were being unrealized. They failed to provide the leadership needed to respond by establishing, nurturing and evolving a comprehensive community-based system of services, designed to be both high quality and cost effective.  Had such an approach been taken, we would have avoided the crisis we find ourselves in today – and that would have translated into saved lives.

Community Care Alliance is an organization that works with and supports highly vulnerable, complex populations who are often marginalized due to the stigma of poverty, mental illness, child abuse and neglect, and homelessness. This agency consistently demonstrates compassion as well as innovation. This organization seeks collaborative opportunities to address human needs with State Agencies, other Not for Profit organizations, schools and civic groups.

Wayne Miller’s article is a cautionary tale of what becomes of a State that is out of touch with vision, imagination, basic human needs, compassion, and concern for the dignity of those among us without a voice. I would urge Governor McKee, House Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio and the entire General Assembly to better understand and address what is at stake. Let’s demonstrate to the health and human service workforce that they are appreciated, that their sacrifices during COVID are recognized, and that every life in RI is valued, by securing adequate funding for health and human services, for both today and into the future.


Contact Information

PO Box 1700 | Woonsocket, RI | 02895 | Directions
401.235.7000 Main Agency | 401.235.7120 Emergency

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