Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and the leadership of the House and Senate say they are working on solutions to the staffing crisis that has constricted access to healthcare and social services for people of all ages with disabilities or special needs.
McKee made his first move Oct. 7 by proposing a wide-ranging budget amendment that includes $12.5 million in retention bonuses for direct care staff of private providers of services to children in state care, and another $5.5 million to stabilize early intervention services to very young children with developmental disabilities and their families.
Four of nine agencies providing early intervention services have stopped taking new cases, the governor said. One in four families slated for early intervention in 2020 did not complete the program. And since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 30 percent reduction in beds available to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), leaving some children in hospital psychiatric programs where they do not belong, and creating waiting lists for services.
The statement from McKee’s office said the situation has left DCYF in jeopardy of violating Family Court orders on placing children in residential programs consistent with their therapeutic needs.