Rhode Island’s providers of developmental disability services can expect help from state coffers as early as this week to compensate for losses resulting from the coronavirus, but they say the level of cash assistance is not enough to cover unprecedented costs.

A trade association representing two dozen provider agencies has asked the state for an hourly wage increase of $4.55 for caregivers of adults with developmental disabilities, who tend to be at greater risk than the average population for becoming infected with COVID-19.

The hike, to an average wage of $17.73 an hour, would greatly narrow the pay gap between privately-employed direct care workers and those in state-run group homes, who now make a starting wage of $18.75, with state employee benefits, for the same work.

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