Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Disability and Aging

Maine Direct Service Workforce Survey Results of 2012: A Chartbook


Direct service workers play a central role in the quality of the long-term services and supports provided to older people and people with disabilities in home and community settings. Nationally, and at the state level, there is a critical need for more information about this workforce in order to inform workforce policy and measure improvements in workforce quality and stability over time. Maine was one of seven states to administer baseline surveys under a grant funded by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service. Survey questions focused on workforce volume, stability, and compensation, as well as, cultural competence, workforce challenges, workforce training and worker qualifications.

This Chartbook provides the results of two direct service workforce surveys conducted in the summer of 2012: one for Personal Attendants who work for adults with disabilities and families in participant-directed programs; and the second for Provider Organizations serving adults with intellectual disabilities and older adults with disabilities.

Key Findings from the Personal Attendant Survey:

  • 51% of direct service workers employed as personal attendants in Maine’s participant-directed programs have an annual household income of less than $22,000.
  • 37% have no source of health-insurance and another 28% are insured under MaineCare.
  • The majority of personal attendants became a personal attendant because a friend or family member needed care (69%). Many also value the personal satisfaction (59%) and flexible schedule (52%) that this work offers. 
  • Most personal attendants express a high level of satisfaction with their work.
  • Personal attendants are less satisfied with their wages.

Key Findings from the from the Provider Organizations:

  • 91% serve people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or autism, while 55% serve persons with mental health or psychiatric conditions and 47% serve persons 65 years or older adults and 45% serve people with physical disabilities.
  • Two-thirds of the Direct Service Workers employed by Provider Organizations work 36 or more hours per week.
  • An average of 89 workers per Provider Organization work primarily in residential settings; an average of 29 workers per Provider Organization provided primarily in-home supports.
  • At the same time, the Provider Organizations served fewer people in residential settings than in home settings, with an average of 42 persons receiving residential services and 50 persons receiving in-home supports per Provider Organization. Provider Organizations tended to serve more people in day programs or with rehabilitative or medical supports.
  • Two-thirds of a Provider Organization’s Direct Service Workforce has had more than 12 months of continuous paid employment.
  • Workers providing day program and other community support services tended to be paid more than workers providing job or vocational services, residential services, or in-home supports.
  • 39% of Provider Organizations pay 76% or more of the health insurance premium for their Direct Service Workers.
  • 92% of Provider Organizations offer vacation or paid time off to their full time workers.
  • Provider Organizations were more likely to identify finding qualified workers as a workforce challenge, with worker turnover the second most frequently identified challenge.

Suggested Citation: Westcott D, Griffin E, Fralich J. Maine Direct Service Workforce Survey Results of 2012. (Chartbook).  Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service; November 2012.

Publication Type: 
Publish Date: 
November 30, 2012

Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

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