nonprofits

Officials Say Nonprofit Workforce Shortage Limits Access To Services

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Those who run nonprofit organizations providing mental health services say underfunding and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shortage of workers.

The workforce shortage has hit the nonprofit sector at the same time as the need for those services has never been greater.

“We’re doing hiring incentives, we’re handing out money sort of left and right without regard to are we getting any money in,” Heather Gates, president and CEO of Community Health Resources, says. 

She says their vacancy rate is about 18%. That means there’s 3,000 people who aren’t getting service every week. 

“That’s a significant number of individuals with very substantial behavioral health conditions who are not getting access to services that they need,” Gates says. 

She calls it a crisis. 

“Nonprofits are dependent by-in-large on contracts with state government. They can’t raise prices, they can't increase their own reimbursement to retain and attract workers,” Gian Carl Casa, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, says. 

There are an estimated 117,000 Connecticut residents who work in the nonprofit sector in Connecticut. 

“Without workers the people who depend on services: our family members, our friends, our neighbors, they’re at risk,” Casa says. 

“I know what you’re going to say. Put your money where your mouth is and you’re absolutely right,” Rep. Cathy Abercrombie says.  

Abercrombie, who co-chairs the Human Services Committee, says lawmakers put millions of dollars in for providers but the governor had to use the money to avoid two strikes. 

“We know that we have millions, almost $300 million left of ARPA dollars which I’m glad that we did hold onto those dollars because we wanted to make sure going into the next session – where there’s gaps,” Abercrombie says. 

She suggested giving the money to the nonprofits. 

“The state has an enormous surplus. It’s got a rainy day fund that’s full with $3.5 billion,” Casa says.  

Casa says there’s never been a better time for the state to make an investment. 

“I think folks understand that this is a very serious problem,” he added.