By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

Community leaders are coming together to ask for changes that support strengthening direct care help in Livingston County.

Direct Care Workers are responsible for helping people who require assistance to continue living as independently as they can. These people might often have an intellectual or developmental disability but are otherwise still capable of staying in their home or group home with the help of a Direct Care Worker.

Connie Conklin, Executive Director of Community Mental Health, says they are now in a crisis situation with the lack of Direct Care Workers. She called it an emergency, with people being displaced because they can’t get the help they need to stay in their homes. This potentially takes them away from family and services that they know and know them back. Conklin said the workers were the ones that stayed with residents-in-need during COVID, some 24/7, and put themselves at risk simply out of being passionate about the work and help they can provide.

Conklin, along with Anne Richardson of the Arc Livingston and the Livingston County Direct Care Worker Emergency Wraparound Team have put out a call to action to support this valuable workforce. Speaking Sunday on WHMI's Viewpoint, they asked for legislation that will invest in the workforce, to strengthen it for those that currently rely on direct care assistance, and for those that may in the future.

One thing the Team said could be looked at was a 2016 report which offered immediate actions and long-term goals that can be refined and acted on. They are also asking for a competitive wage for workers and a career pathway that supports training programs, educational opportunities and certification programs. Despite having caring hearts, and proving help that can carry tremendous responsibility, these workers only make about $16 per hour, which the Team feels is not competitive, nor is a livable wage in Livingston County.

For additional information, contact Conklin at, or Richardson at

In addition, Arc of Michigan has a webpage with details.