The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is pleased to announce the results of the Comparable Worth Wage Analysis of Human Services Work RFQ which closed May 31, 2022.
The University of Washington School of Social Work was awarded $498,278 to conduct a comparable worth wage analysis of the City of Seattle and King County human services sector.
HSD called in May for applications from individuals, teams, and organizations interested in conducting this wage analysis with General Funds from City Council add CBA HSD-002-B-001. Working with the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC) and regional human services workers, the University of Washington will produce a report that will include recommendations for an updated pay structure for human services organizations. Presentations to regional stakeholders, including funders and human services organizations will take place after the report is completed.
As the cost of living in our region continues to soar, it’s getting more challenging for human services workers to live in our communities and stay in human services jobs. We must act to ensure human service workers – and the difficult work they do – is recognized through equitable wages.Michelle McDaniel, Crisis Connections CEO and Co-Chair of the Raising Wages for Changing Lives campaign
Governments at all levels rely on the skills and expertise of nonprofit organizations to support well-being in communities so that individuals can reach their potential at every stage of life. Recruiting and retaining effective, experienced human services workers is essential for meeting the goals shared by funders and human service providers. These goals include supporting people to build well-being in communities across Martin Luther King County. Significant pay gaps create hurdles for recruitment and retention of human services workers.
Human service providers and elected officials agree that human services workers are significantly underpaid for the difficult work they do, which puts the whole sector in a precarious position. “The people who take care of our children, provide healthcare in community-based clinics, help people without homes connect with resources, engage our elders, support our youth, and care for people with disabilities are often paid at such low levels that they qualify for public support programs themselves,” said Janice Deguchi, Executive Director of Neighborhood House and Co-Chair of the Raising Wages for Changing Lives campaign. “Their pay doesn’t reflect the education required, difficulty, or value of their work to build economic, emotional, physical, developmental, and social well-being for all community members.”
City residents and visitors rely on our social sector workers to do extremely difficult and demanding work. They show up every day ready to help folks find safe housing, heal from trauma, and get connected to services. But low wages lead to high turnover. The University of Washington’s work on this wage equity analysis is the first step in appropriately investing in service providers and valuing this vital work.Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold (D-1), Chair, Public Safety & Human Services committee
Rating committee members were selected by the SHSC and included leaders from the nonprofit community, Seattle City Council staff, and content experts on wage equity analyses. They recommended funding the University of Washington School of Social Work at the full amount available. The rating committee was impressed with the University of Washington’s experience with comparable worth wage analysis, their work on public policy issues, and the team they assembled—including national and international leaders in research who can provide critical checks and balances in the study.
“We applaud the City of Seattle for working with human service providers to take this first step to correct the long-term legacy of under-paying human service workers. This analysis will compare positions in the human services sector with jobs in different fields that require similar levels of skills, education, and responsibility giving us all a better understanding of what equitable wages should be for this difficult, valuable work,” said Steve Daschle, director of Southwest Youth and Family Services and Co-Chair of the SHSC.
The final report will be due no later than January 31, 2023. Follow this blog and HSD’s social media for any updates on the progress of this proposal.