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Organization that helps people with disabilities discusses challenges: “We are most definitely under staffed” (video)

John Astles is the CFO of The Arc Ontario, which operates 16 group homes across the county. The non-profit organization provides supports and services to people with development disabilities and other challenges. Astles says its primary programs historically have been residential and day habilitation. More recently, they’ve developed social enterprises, offering pre-employment and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. 

Right now, residential care facilities like his are dealing with a staffing crisis. Even so, Astles says, it’s a fulfilling career.

“To see how they’ve grown, the excitement for their future that they have and their families reaction to that, it’s meaningful on a spiritual level,” Astles said. “It’s so impactful for them and their families for the people that work with them, and for me personally to see that success.”

The Arc Ontario looking to hire amid staffing shortage (video)


The Arc Ontario is not a state-run office.  It’s a separate non-profit organization, but the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is its primary funder and regulator.

According to the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities website, 80% of services are provided by private non-profits, while 20% of services are run by the state.


More: NY: Group homes for disabled people are closing as staffing crisis persists



Staffing is a challenge for residential-care facilities

Astles says his organization is under staffed.

“Especially right now, we have many vacancies that we want to fill,” Astles said. “And as an organization, one of the things that’s great about us is we have such a variety of opportunity.  We have everything from a more typical direct-support professional, and clinical care positions all the way through to facilities, business management opportunities.”

As organizations like ARC struggle to fill roles, the state is taking steps to help residential care facilities hire and retain staff.  


Related: Ontario ARC announces rebrand, new name and logo


State taking steps to help

Last month, Governor Kathy Hochul launched a healthcare worker bonus program, and partnered with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, to help address ongoing worker shortages in the developmental disabilities field.

Astles says, more help for organizations like his is needed.

“One of the things that they can do is support our efforts in advocacy and lobbying with the state government for additional funding,” Astles said. “There have been a number of recent programs throughout he state for one-time bonus funding for direct-support professionals.  And those that work directly with people and provide care.  And though that’s very much appreciated, what we really need is an ongoing and sustained investment in our workforce.”


Related: Hochul signs bills strengthening the rights of the disabled in New York



A challenging but rewarding career

Astles encourages those looking for a challenging but rewarding career, to apply for one of its open roles.

“We look for people who can really become impassioned and carry our mission forward, share our vision and our values,” Astles said.



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