Throughout our 112 year history, KenCrest has advocated for the people we serve and their communities. Many of the factors that drive our capacity to serve are contingent upon funding, compliance requirements and codes which are set by the government at local, state, and federal levels. Given the current uncertainty around how services like ours will be funded in the future, our leadership is keenly aware that changes at any of these levels can affect how we are able to provide those services to the people that need them.
In each state, there is a long waiting list of families that need services. In Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 16,000 people waiting for services, equivalent to a $1 billion gap in services. This is not a sustainable model for our future. We are working daily to find cost-saving solutions through innovative program offerings, which will drive down the costs of services in order to bring more people off that list and into a meaning filled everyday life.
Also driving KenCrest’s advocacy efforts is the Direct Service Professional (DSP) Wage Crises. Last year, KenCrest employed over 1,500 DSPs whom we rely on daily for carrying out our mission. The reimbursement rate for their labor, which is determined by the government, has remained mostly stagnant over the last 30 years, remaining proportionately lower than other industries. As a result, potential workers look to other careers with higher wages. This stagnation in wages and support available to those that directly provide services is a major threat to our industry, threatening our ability to provide the highest quality care possible.
At KenCrest, we are taking a multi-pronged approach to making our voice heard. We are an affiliate of Lutheran Services in America. The over 300 Lutheran affiliates touch the lives of one in every 50 people in the US. We join with them to have a collective voice at the federal level. KenCrest CEO Marian Baldini has testified at the state and local levels regarding both the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign and the DSP Wage Crises.
In 2016, the Giving Voice Advocacy Fund was established to provide training and support for self-advocates, their families, and staff. We are equipping our stakeholders to know the issues that affect their lives and to make their voices heard. You can support the Giving Voice Advocacy Fund here.