More than a dozen bills were before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities for a hearing, but a common theme ran through many of them: addressing the plight of service employees who, despite helping those with significant physical and mental needs, cannot make ends meet.

The committee is also weighing a Rep. Jon Santiago bill (H 164) to enshrine in law maximum client-to-coordinator ratios for the Department of Developmental Services. Because of current staff levels, according to service coordinator Stan Taraska, the department has more than 41,000 individuals eligible for support but only 496 coordinators — a roughly 82-to-one ratio.

Santiago’s bill would mandate caseload ratios of 55-to-one for coordinators in categories A, B, and D, which oversee service for individuals with developmental disabilities, and six-to-one for coordinators in category C.