LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Department of Human Services is requesting double-digit pay increases for direct-care workers at state institutions for the developmentally disabled in hopes of retaining the employees.

The department’s proposal includes five human development centers where pay would increase about 18%, from $22,000 to $26,034, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Pay for supervisors would also increase almost 12%. Currently direct-care and support staff members all make the same starting pay.

Part of the proposal would also offer free training for all employees to become certified nursing assistants and require the direct-care staff members from all five centers to achieve the certification by the end of the year.

The proposed changes in salary increase are in hopes to reduce the annual turnover that currently averages more than 100% across the five centers, said Melissa Stone, director of the department’s Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.

“We’re having an enormously hard time just keeping people from leaving because it’s hard work,” Stone said. Considering “you can get paid that same hourly rate to work at a fast food restaurant.”

The turnover also affects patients as they need consistent staff to know and be familiar with their needs.

Pay increases and training still need to be approved by the Legislature, which would cost an estimated $4.7 million.

Stone said her division is able to pay for the salary increases and training without increasing its annual budget due to cost-cutting measures at the centers.