News Briefs

Bonuses flowing to Kansas workers providing direct care for people with disabilities

By: - September 28, 2022 11:42 am
Matt Fletcher, executive director of InterHab, said about 28,500 workers providing home or community-based care to people with disabilities in Kansas welcome bonuses made possible through $51 million in federal funding received by the state. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Matt Fletcher, executive director of InterHab, said about 28,500 workers providing home or community-based care to people with disabilities in Kansas welcome bonuses made possible through $51 million in federal funding received by the state. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The president of the nonprofit Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas lauded the state’s distribution of unique retention and recruitment bonuses to thousands of people providing direct care for individuals with disabilities.

Jerry Michaud, who leads the organization serving 18 counties in the northwest corner of Kansas, said workers engaged in “challenging and meaningful” service to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities welcomed a slice of $51 million in federal funding set aside by the state for bonuses.

“These resources have allowed us to thank these designated staff for their ongoing commitment to serving others every day in the community,” Michaud said. “Upon receipt, one staff teared up and said, ‘You have no idea how glad I am to hear this.'”

Gov. Laura Kelly said the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services established a system to funnel bonuses to 18,000 full-time and 10,000 part-time care workers in Kansas.

KDADS designed a process whereby funding would be distributed to three private insurance companies under contract to provide Medicaid, or KanCare, services across Kansas. The resulting bonus payments to direct-care workers and supervisors engaged in home and community-based services must be completed by March 30, 2023.

In April, the Kelly administration announced plans to put together the bonus program with $51 million received under the federal American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in 2021. At that time, the goal was to provide 24,000 bonuses of up to a $2,000 each. Recruitment bonuses were to be in the range of $1,500 per person.

Laura Howard, secretary of KDADS, said “workers are now receiving the bonuses they deserve.”

The initiative was designed to increase access to quality services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as behavioral health challenges.

Matt Fletcher, executive director of InterHab, said Kansas service providers struggled to retain workers in critical direct care positions. Compensation for these workers has been a longstanding issue in Kansas.

“The workforce bonus initiative offered through KDADS is a vital new tool for providers in attracting workers,” he said.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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