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CT nonprofits experiencing workforce crisis

FOX61 spoke with local nonprofits who deliver essential services to the community. Yet, they can't afford to pay competitive salaries and are having staff shortages.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Like countless others, community nonprofits have been hit hard during the pandemic, as nonprofits across the state are on the frontlines helping those who depend on them the most. 

"That's what they'll do," said Gian Carl Casa, President & CEO of CT Community Nonprofit Alliance. "They'll tie anything together with scotch tape and string if they have to in order to provide services."

However, as Casa explained, this isn't the case anymore. While community needs are at an all-time high, funds and staffing to keep organizations afloat are at a critical low.

"Although we're nonprofits, we're also employers of folks in many of our cities and communities across the country," explained Fernando Muniz, CEO of Community Solutions.

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FOX61 spoke with local nonprofits who deliver essential services to the community. Yet, they can't afford to pay competitive salaries and are experiencing a critical staffing shortage.

"We lost 9.5% of our workforce," said Heather LaTorra, President & CEO of Marrakech. "And we're operating with our largest position vacancy rate ever, even with the increase in wages." 

Muniz said Community Solutions is also experiencing similar shortages. 

"About 17% of our positions are vacant," explained Muniz. "That number had been below 10% before the pandemic, and we're struggling to hire and retain qualified staff." 

Luis Perez, President & CEO of Mental Health CT said they are also impacted by the lack of funding. 

"We're experiencing about a 17% vacancy rate,"  Perez said. "Our turnover rate is 37.5% which is higher than it had been prior to the pandemic." 

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Casa said, to put it simply; everyone's staff is exhausted from nearly two years of frontline work during a global pandemic and they're leaving for better-paying jobs with less stress.

While the governor and legislature approved a 4% funding increase in 2021, organizations need more.

"We appreciate the additional funding this year, but we will continue to have staff turnover and no way to continue to respond to community need," said Diane Manning, President & CEO of United Services. "If more funding does not come to us through our state contracts."

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While organizations are cautiously optimistic, they're working to avoid the worst-case scenario.

"What's going to happen is that people will, unfortunately, have to go without services," explained Perez, "Imagine what deterioration in terms of the quality of life in the state of Connecticut would happen." 

In the meantime, organizations are uniting to increase funding by an additional 8% for the 2022/2023 fiscal year. 

Click here to view CT Community Nonprofit Alliance survey findings on nonprofit worker crisis. 

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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