The Arc Central Chesapeake Region announced a $1.50 per hour pay increase Thursday for about 300 of its 350 workers, the third such increase in two years, the company’s chief executive officer said.
Starting Dec. 29, all direct support professionals, who make up 85% of Arc’s workforce, will receive a raise if they currently make less than $15, said Arc CEO Jonathon Rondeau, who has led the company that serves people with intellectual developmental disabilities in Anne Arundel County since 2017.
“Oftentimes agencies are constrained on how much we can pay our staff,” Rondeau said. “Over the last year, our board has worked to increase that as much as possible so we can value our employees knowing they are doing really important work to help people with disabilities live and work in their community.”
This is the third pay increase in two years for direct support professionals. Meanwhile, all new direct support hires will start at a wage of $13 per hour, Rondeau said, adding that the company currently has 60 openings for direct support professionals.
As part of legislation passed in the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year, Maryland’s minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour on Jan. 1, with more increases set to kick in over the next six years. But the company chose to announce the wage increase ahead of that state-wide pay bump to get their workers as close to a living wage as possible, Rondeau said.
“We know our employees work more than one job. We could never compensate on the value of the work they do, but they see Arc is prioritizing this and incredibly grateful and committed to the work that they do,” he said.
Direct support professionals are responsible for managing health and medical needs as well as employment-related tasks such as helping with job searches, applications and interview preparation. These professionals also help with personal care, meal planning, shopping, cooking, transportation and other tasks.
“People with disabilities, to be able to live and work, often need support,” Rondeau said. “They do things from helping balance checkbooks to grocery shopping and everything in between, really helping people to be able to live where and how they choose.”
In April, the company opened a new 19,000 square foot headquarters in Severn with three new buildings for administration, training and collaboration.