Senator Lesser Discusses “Unsung Heroes of Our Economy” at Boston Human Service Workers Forum

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser spoke on a panel hosted by the Providers’ Council on Wednesday to discuss some of the difficulties faced by those who work in the human services sector, such as social workers, substance abuse counselors and mental healthcare providers.

“Human service workers are the unsung heroes of our economy, and we will work to ensure all of state government appreciates their contribution,” he said.

The Council, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute and UMass Dartmouth, unveiled a new report at the forum titled “The Face of the Human Services Sector.” The report gives an in-depth look at the demographics of a growing field that contains nearly 180,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.

“Investing in our human service workforce supports the assistance they give to a wide range of people in need of care. Ultimately, their work results in higher-quality care, reduces error and reduces costs in our healthcare system. It’s not only morally responsible to show them our respect, but it’s financially responsible to support this sector however we can,” said Sen. Lesser.

Sen. Lesser comes from a family of dedicated human service workers. His mother spent her career as a clinical social worker. He also has a sister who is a mental healthcare provider.

Earlier this year, Sen. Lesser introduced a bill that would create a student loan repayment program for qualified human services workers who provide essential services to one-in-ten state residents. Such a program would help recruit and retain a stronger, more qualified workforce in the human services sector — and help a much-needed class of workers who require college degrees to do their work.

The bill was included in the omnibus opioid and substance abuse bill passed by the Senate, but did not make it into the final bill sent to the Governor. Sen. Lesser intends to refile the legislation at the start of the new legislative session in January.