The op-ed from Laura Howell ("Minimum wage debate ignores crucial group," Jan. 15), touches on the heart of the issue: Should those who render care and assistance to people with special needs be forgotten as we try to address the issue of the minimum wage? Obviously the answer is no.
Further, while her excellent piece focuses on the here and now, I would urge legislators to also look forward. The people served by this workforce present plenty of challenges today, but like everyone else they are aging. Until the last few decades many people with intellectual/developmental disabilities had shorter than normal life expectancies. Changes in medical care have changed this, and while the nation as a whole is growing older as the baby-boomers enter into old age, the percentage of people with such disabilities entering into their senior years is growing even faster when compared with the past.
This demographic shift is going to put new and even more complex demands on people providing care. As difficult as the work is today, it will be even more so in the not distant future, and failure to ensure this workforce is compensated appropriately will drive the best and brightest out of it. This is not the time to do it.
I urge our legislators to make sure as they deliberate on the critical issue of minimum wage that the people employed providing care to our most vulnerable citizens are not forgotten.
The writer is president and CEO of Chimes International.-
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