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Advocate

Make Your Voice Heard

There are many issues facing disability service providers, the clients and families we serve and our extraordinary employees. Look up your elected officials, learn about the issues and take action now.

What We Believe and Need

LBSA believes that the development of one-size-fits-all solutions must stop and that plans must work for all Minnesotans, including those with the most significant needs.

We support policies that:

  • Allow for flexibility in how people and their families access support.
  • Affirm the need to support the individual’s choice of living situation and to ensure that a variety of choices are available.
  • Recognize that people with disabilities may want to move away from their family of origin at the appropriate time in their life.

Looking for a way to get involved directly on campus? We have volunteer opportunities that fit a variety of interests and schedules as well as internships that build next-generation leaders.

Featured Action

LBSA Featured in National Advocacy Report

Laura Baker Services Association was one of only eight community housing and support services providers in the nation featured in an advocacy report published by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) and released in October 2020. The brief profiles providers of Medicaid-funded disability supports, the challenges they face and the critical need to preserve disability supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Review the Report

Affordable Housing Solutions

We fully support people with disabilities living integrated lives of their choosing with access to the right amount of structure and support to successfully engage with the world. To make this happen, there needs to be more affordable housing solutions.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that costs no more than 30% of a person’s income. In Minnesota, only 25% of affordable housing needs are met, an issue for both our clients and staff.

The Problem at Hand

  • Affordable housing is a need for both our staff members and the clients we support.
  • Services and housing are separated for the people we support; we need to ensure that they have access to housing.
  • In LBSA circles, 20+ families are looking for housing within the $100,000 to $150,000 range.

Our Vision

  • LBSA is working to develop the vision of an affordable, inclusive, integrated and accessible community in Northfield.
  • Though many communities are developing affinity group-specific collaborations, we have not been able to identify other collaborations like ours across the country.
  • For people with disabilities, we would like this vision to include home ownership. Other solutions may also include land trusts or townhomes.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Housing solutions must be located with bike or walking access to regularly used services, or access to reliable, regular transportation.
  • There is a preference to use private financing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other government sources are competitive, restrictive and can take three to five years to navigate.
  • Funding for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities only allows 25% of any living setting project to include people with IDD.
  • Northfield rental statutes limit the number of rental houses/units in certain areas.
  • People with disabilities are considered extremely low income, as their main source of income is social security ($900 to $1,200 per month).

Adequate and Equitable Compensation

LBSA knows firsthand the incredible, life-changing work performed by caregivers. We also understand the need to improve pay for caregivers to help curb high turnover, recruit and retain high-quality, consistent staff, and improve the quality of care for people with disabilities.

The Problem at Hand

  • Caregiving for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities requires complex knowledge and skills, including exceptional judgement, maturity, personal restraint and a deep understanding of many subjects. The current wages of caregivers do not reflect the intensive skill set and training required to provide the level of supervision and care that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities require to maximize their contributions to society.
  • It takes at least an hourly wage of $28 to support an adult and one child; due to public funding constraints, caregivers are paid an average starting wage of $11 per hour.
  • As a result, many caregivers receive public assistance, such as SNAP, housing and childcare, among other services.
  • A high turnover rate among caregivers makes it difficult to maintain high-quality care for people with disabilities.

Our Vision

  • Service rates should reflect the knowledge, skills and training that are required to be a caregiver. Thus, caregivers should be paid a minimum of 40% above the current minimum wage.
  • We envision that increasing caregiver wages can create a zero-sum or even lower investment by the government, as caregivers would not need to rely on other government programs.
  • LBSA supports legislation to raise pay rates for caregivers to improve the quality of care for people with disabilities who are receiving home and community-based services.

Take Action for Everyday Heroes

Meet our everyday heroes and take action for them. They’re counting on you.

Adequate Support for Families

If families are expected to support their family members with disabilities, our communities must provide affordable and accessible respite options for them. LBSA fully support families having ready access to support, so the needs of a family member with disabilities don’t overwhelm the rest of the family.

What We Face

  • We must have respite available for all citizens who require intensive support, not just for the elderly, as is currently the case in Minnesota.
  • We must be able to assess needs and provide funding according to needs assessments, rather than relying upon a pre-set amount for all families.
  • Family members caring for a person with disabilities receive no reimbursement for respite services provided by LBSA.

Elected Official Lookup

A Passionate Advocate

julie thorsheim

Underneath Julie Thorsheim’ s pleasant, soft-spoken demeanor lies a passionate advocate. It would be impossible to calculate the value of her advocacy work.

Meet Julie

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In Community Blog

In Community sheds light on the issues and challenges people with disabilities face in their journey to leading fulfilling lives. It also focuses on LBSA’s efforts to build a supportive community that embraces all people.

Read the Blog

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