To clients, families, guardians and friends of Willows Way,

We are sending this information to all of you in the hopes that we may be able to find folks who would be interested in learning more about advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And here’s why…

If you’re involved with Willows Way or any other support provider, this likely comes as no surprise. Providers are experiencing a staffing shortage like we have never seen before. It isn’t just at Willows Way or only in Missouri. It’s national and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Agencies have been working alongside industry legislative advocates in an attempt to secure increased state funding that would allow us the pay Direct Care Professionals (DSPs) higher wages.

In Missouri, the average pay for staff in the home is between $9.50 and $10.50 an hour. Willows Way’s starting pay is $12.25 , but even as one of the highest paying providers in the area, we fall short in being able to keep up with starting wages of $15-$20 an hour at places like Amazon, Target and Walmart. We are losing staff to better paying jobs and the impact is becoming critical. I have little doubt that you all have noticed this with regard the staff supporting your loved one. High turnover, staff working overtime, staff who are tired from having to work multiple jobs just to stay afloat.

Our clients deserve the best care that can only come from staff who are paid a fair living wage and able to support themselves and their family with one job, not several. Our clients deserve consistent staff. They should be able to form relationships with staff without constant fear that they are just going to leave. They deserve experienced, seasoned professionals who consider being a Direct Support Professional more than just a job, but a career.

It’s our job to advocate for our clients and our staff and we need your help. Lawmakers have heard from providers and we want to shift the conversation so that they start hearing from you – clients, families, employees and those who feel the direct impact of the staffing crisis. By sharing your experience, you will be enlightening legislators to the needs of the folks we serve and of the need for additional funding.

Delta Center, an advocacy and provider agency in St. Charles, will provide ongoing advocacy training sessions for small groups. The training will initially happen at their office in St. Peters (the corner of McClay and Jungermann) but eventually can go “on the road” to different locations. Each session will be 3 hours. They’ll do them during the day, evenings and occasionally on Saturday to accommodate as many schedules as they can. There is no cost for this and once folks attend they could sign up for another session if they feel they need it. The first 4 sessions are as follows:

Tuesday 9/17 from 1-4pm
Thursday 9/19 from 6-9pm
Saturday 9/21 from 9am-noon
Monday 9/23 from 6-9pm

There will be more but that will get us started.  People can register or get on a wait list for future trainings by calling us a 636-926-8761 and asking for Lisa.

Please consider taking the time to become an advocate for those we serve.  Thank you!

Joy Steele
Executive Director
Willows Way
800 Friedens Road Suite 100
St Charles, Missouri 63303
636-757-0543 – office