Delaware Public Media

Delaware disability advocates rally for more state funding

May 10, 2018

Delawareans with disabilities and their advocates rallied for more state funding at Legislative Hall yesterday Thursday.

They’re pushing lawmakers to pass legislation sponsored by State Rep. Melanie George Smith. Her bill would increase the pay rate for workers who care for people with disabilities.

Verna Hensley with Easterseals Delaware said a lack of funding prevents groups from paying higher wages. And the low pay makes it hard to attract and keep providers.

“We have to raise a lot of money to basically subsidize those services," she said. "If we’re only being reimbursed for 75 percent of the service, then we’ve got to find a way to raise the money to provide the other 25 percent.”

People caring for individuals with disabilities make an average of $11.50 an hour. A 2014 study recommended raising that to $13.00 an hour.

Delaware’s Division of Developmental Disabilities Services estimates it would cost $20 million to fully fund providers. The legislation would cover $9 million of that amount for the next fiscal year.