MRCI advocates for more staffing during Disability Services Day at the Capitol

MRCI staff and clients held a virtual viewing session to hear from and talk with lawmakers
MRCI is advocating for help in hiring more staff to better provide programming for individuals with disabilities.
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 6:47 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2022 at 7:25 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Friday is Disability Services Day at the Minnesota State Capitol.

In Mankato, MRCI is advocating for help in hiring more staff to better provide programming for individuals with disabilities.

Tammy Suess is an MRCI client who also lives in a local group home feeling the effects of staffing shortages.

“Yeah, we need more staff to help us,” she said. “We could get out, but now we can’t because we only have one staff during the day.”

Suess said more staff could help provide more services.

“And go out and do craft areas and bowling, stuff like that,” said Suess.

MRCI, which provides a variety of programming for individuals with disabilities, is also feeling the effects of the shortages.

CEO Brian Benshoof said they need over 100 staff members.

“Yeah our biggest issue that we’re trying to move through the legislature is help in hiring staff,” Benshoof said.

Tuesday, MRCI staff and clients held a virtual viewing session to hear from and talk with lawmakers at the State Capitol as part of Disability Services Day.

Benshoof said the shortages have made it difficult for the organization to grow their programs.

“Well we still have several hundred people who haven’t returned to our program, because we haven’t been able to fill staffing positions,” Benshoof said. “The job market now is incredibly competitive, where we have to continue to raise our starting rates to keep up with the job market, and what we get paid to provide services doesn’t keep up with those increases.”

Benshoof said MRCI is asking for money from the legislature to help them keep up with staff pay and benefits.

“We think there’s a great opportunity with the budget surplus of, what you heard today almost $10 billion, so we’re hoping that there’s funding within all of that to help us with this kind of crisis we’re in,” he said.

Employment Coordinator Matthew Wilhelmi said the effects of staffing shortages are felt industry-wide.

“It’s from MRCI service providers like us that have community-based day services, employment services, being able to have job coaches for the people we support and in the residential side of things. When the people are at home, if they don’t have the staff at home, they don’t have the quality of life they deserve,” he said.

Suess said she hopes to see more staff soon.

“Hope the legislators can help us with more staff and get out with the staff. There’s one person who takes everybody out. It’s not good for us,” she said.

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