Sen. Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton deserves a round of applause for calling attention to the plight of direct care workers serving those with developmental disabilities ("Senator says he'll block minimum wage bill until state raises pay for caregivers," March 20). He has also long been a champion for direct care workers who serve children and adults with mental illness.
Our workers are literally responsible for peoples' lives. They are the ones who ensure that the right medications are taken at the right times and are the first to notice changes in behavior or health status that may require quick intervention. When a crisis occurs — often in the middle of the night — they are the first responders.
Mental health workers assist our clients in learning the skills needed to be successful members of the community. They work evenings, weekends, holidays and snow days. And all too often they must work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Direct care workers do not perform a minimum wage job. They deserve compensation in keeping with the responsibilities and challenges they assume every day.
Lori Doyle, Catonsville
The writer is public policy director of the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.
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