As news organizations have reported, last week the U.S, Senate and House of Representatives passed a significant piece of legislation that has broad reach into several sectors. Less well known nationally is that this bill originally contained billions of dollars specifically for agencies like Venture and, most importantly, for the amazing professionals who sacrifice so much to care for others. Unfortunately, and infuriatingly, politicians sacrificed this portion of the bill in order to pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. I am all for reducing inflation, but leaving behind an industry that helps others? Again??? No, that is not okay anymore (or at least it shouldn’t be).
Our society and elected officials need to start valuing the work done by everyone who supports others and respect their professionalism and dedication. Make no mistake, those who choose to help others in this world do not get the recognition they deserve and we need to change that both for them and for those they help. It is beyond time that specific legislation committed to recognizing and supporting the work of the human services industry is passed at the federal level. Too often, this type of commitment is embedded in larger pieces of legislation that fund a multitude of things. As such, when it comes time to start debating a bill, our sector can be chopped away so that crucial money is spent elsewhere. This is what happened last week.
It is troubling that the people who have chosen to build a career around helping others must do so in anonymity. There needs to be a concerted effort to change this so that people who help others are finally recognized as the professionals they are. Working in this field is not easy and it never has been but we still have extraordinary people who show up every day to make a difference in someone else’s life. Everyone in an agency contributes something to support people who need help. From the direct care staff and managers to the nurses and facilities people who help make homes safe and welcoming, too many dedicated people are still getting lost in the shuffle. The workforce in this industry is the linchpin to our nation’s vast social safety net and a huge economic driver as well. Congress needs to recognize this with sweeping action and commitment.
Keep in mind that while so many other industries are still in the midst of a workforce crisis, our industry at the center of an ongoing social crisis. The workforce has always been what is best about the human services sector but there just are not enough professionals to meet the current demand. At this time, there are thousands of people in Massachusetts who cannot get their clinical and personal needs met. In other words, a significant part of our society is being left behind due to a lack of resources. That is the definition of a social crisis. The only way to fix this is to finally recognize the importance and commitment of the people who have chosen a career of helping people. Our politicians in Washington have to do this by funding the services we provide at a level that allows professionals to continue making a career out of this work. It is time to move us to the front of the line for a change.