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Wage Increase for Michigan Direct Support Workers

May 9, 2016

Approximately 4,000 Michigan direct support workers (DSWs) and their immediate supervisors will receive pay increases of 50 cents per hour, the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) announced on April 28.

The average starting wage for DSWs employed through the OCCMHA system is currently $8.75, survey data shows. The 50-cent wage increase will help OCCMHA-affiliated providers comply with Michigan new minimum wage law, which will raise the state minimum to $9.25 starting in 2018.

OCCMHA Chief Financial Officer Anya Eliassen told the Oakland Press on May 6 that the authority intends to raise wages to as high as $11/hour in the near future.

The OCCMHA is a public mental health system that supports Oakland County residents who have developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, or substance-abuse problems.

It does not directly employ DSWs, but rather contracts with local agencies whose workers provide supportive services to an estimated 25,000 Oakland County residents.

In a press release, OCCMHA Executive Director and CEO Willie Brooks said that “individuals on the frontline of our service delivery model must receive appropriate compensation for their important role in ensuring people with disabilities are given the opportunity to lead independent and self-directed lives.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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