AACFA logoFairness in funding would better equip agencies looking to hire Michigan workers and provide fair pay for critical work 

LANSING – Non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies are sounding the alarm bell regarding a growing shortage of workers that could affect critical family services like adoption and juvenile justice facilities.

“From providing youth mental health services to bringing families together through adoptions, non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies are an essential part of Michigan’s child welfare system,” said Judith Fischer-Wollack, president of the Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies. “Because we don’t receive the same level of funding as state-run organizations for the same services, we are at a major disadvantage to meet the growing needs of Michigan’s families and we are facing a critical labor shortage that has been exacerbated by COVID-19.”

The state determines and caps the cost of care in terms of reimbursement for direct care services for non-profit, child welfare agencies. A similar cap does not exist for state-run facilities.

This creates a major competitive disadvantage with state facilities or even fast-food chains when it comes to wages.

The starting salary for an employee at a non-profit, accredited child welfare agency is typically $10-$12/hour, while the state of Michigan hires workers with similar qualifications for its state-run facilities starting at $18-$20/hour, according to a search of jobs on the State of Michigan website.

Non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies are also competing for hourly workers with the likes of Amazon, which is paying $15-$17.50/hour in Michigan or at Meijer, which is offering $13-$15/hour, according to a search on Indeed.com.

Fast-food chains across Michigan typically start at $10-$13/hour, depending on location — a similar pay as non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies whose employees work around the clock and are responsible for the care of children with varying needs.

“Research shows that investing in Michigan’s non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies on the front end will pay dividends for Michigan’s children, families and taxpayers,” said Spectrum Human Services CEO and President Josh Swaninger. “As we deal with this critical labor shortage in order to meet the growing needs of Michigan’s children and families, policymakers need to explore fairness in funding.”

Non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies can now request variances to their staff/child ratios because of COVID-19, which has exacerbated the labor shortage. As an example, for residential programs the staff/child ratio is one-to-five, but variances could shift that to one-to-six or one-to-seven.

Jobs are currently available in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The AACFA website has a link to available jobs at member organizations.

All members of AACFA are 501(c)(3) organizations and are accredited by the National Council on Accreditation or Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Our accreditation means we follow national best practices, and we are subject to independent audits and reviews to ensure the highest standards for safety, transparency and fiscal responsibility.