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Budget Allows for Some Health Care Workers to Receive Wage Increases

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By Press Release

TRENTON – Demonstrating continued support for the frontline workers who are vital to the health and safety of so many New Jerseyans, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Murphy’s budget proposal includes wage increases for workers who provide critical care for individuals with disabilities, older residents and children.
According to a release, the budget plan for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 includes $192 million for wage increases for direct support professionals, certified nursing aides, personal care assistants and child care workers.
“During this unprecedented health and economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, Gov. Murphy’s budget recognizes the critical work happening on the frontlines in New Jersey’s group homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, nursing homes, homes of older homebound residents and child care centers across the state,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson stated. “The resilient and committed workforce showing up every day to care for our seniors, children and individuals with disabilities deserve to be valued and supported – and that is what these budget investments aim to do.” 
The governor’s proposed budget includes:
· $65.7 million to support direct support professionals and others who care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in group homes.
Funding includes $31.4 million in state resources and $34.3 million in federal matching. Of this amount, $24 million will support an emergency wage increase from October to December of this year for direct support professionals (DSPs). The additional $41.7 million in new funding will help ensure that DSPs are paid above the state’s increasing minimum wage and raise the wages of group home managers as the minimum wage increases in January. 
· $42 million for personal care assistants who care for older residents who live in their own homes.
Funding includes $19.7 million in state resources and $22.3 million in federal matching dollars. Of this amount, $10.5 million will support an emergency wage increase from October to December of this year to support personal care assistants (PCA) who provide critical in-home supports for older residents who need assistance with bathing, eating, and other activities. The proposed budget also increases Medicaid funding by $31.5 million to raise the base PCA rate to $19 per hour.
· $78 million to increase frontline certified nurse aide wages in nursing facilities
Funding includes $37.4 million in state resources and $40.6 million in federal matching.  These new resources will support an estimated 20% Medicaid hourly wage increase for CNAs during the nine-month budget period, depending on a facility’s current wage rates. The budget implements the Medicaid funding plan for nursing facilities announced by the governor Aug. 10 and passed by the Legislature.
· $6.4 million to support the child care workforce. 
In addition to the new $250 million child care initiative the governor announced last week to support New Jersey families and the sustainability of child care providers as schools work to reopen, the proposed budget includes funding to support child care workers’ wages as the minimum wage is anticipated to increase in January. 
“The workers who dedicate themselves to caring for individuals with disabilities and older residents play a vital role in helping some of our most vulnerable residents improve their quality of life and live as independently as possible,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Sarah Adelman stated. “We value their work, even more so during these challenging times. They have improved the lives of so many New Jerseyans.”
“Quality, affordable child care is a must for working families,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira stated.“Part of that means maintaining a strong and vibrant workforce, and we are so grateful for the commitment of our child care workers, especially as they have supported families throughout the pandemic.”

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