Yesterday, I was honored to join President Obama and brave home care workers and leaders in the Home Care Fight for $15, at the White House Conference on Aging.
Together with partners like Caring Across Generations and AARP, we put the lack of affordable home care and the poverty wages paid home care workers squarely on policymakers' agenda. There is a Care Crisis in this country, evidenced by the Senior Care Gap. In every state, there are more seniors in need of daily care than there are available home care workers. Everyone should have access to the services they need so they can live in their own homes with dignity and independence. And no one should be paid poverty wages and denied decent benefits to do this important work.
I was so moved at the determination and courage of people like Katie Jordan of the Workers United Retirees Association who stood up and asked policymakers for support for $15 an hour and a union.
I saw the great courage it took for Atlanta home care worker Paula Gibbs to stand up and ask how homecare workers earning $13,000 in median income could possibly save for retirement.
Molita Cunningham, a home care worker from Miami, Fla., shared her story as a mother of three who loves her client and won't leave to find better paying work because she loves who she serves and won't leave her clients in the lurch. The audience gasped when she said she works 12 hour shifts seven days a week and still has to rely on food stamps to feed her family, Medicaid for healthcare and public assistance for housing.
Many partner organizations and Members of Congress shared their support for the Home Care Fight for $15 (and asked for T-shirts!).
I am so proud of the brave leaders of the Home Care Fight for $15 movement, who shone a bright light on the need to fix our broken long term care system.
Home care should not be a crisis for families -- it should provide families with the relief of knowing their loved ones can live at home with dignity and independence. Home care workers -- who must be able to provide for their families while they care for others -- are on the front lines of this transformation.
--Mary Kay Henry