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Contact Your Representatives On These Issues

WHAT IS GOING ON?  

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, a hazard pay wage increase of $2.25 per hour was approved for direct care workers in recognition of their heroism and sacrifice in continuing to serve our most vulnerable residents during this unprecedented health emergency.   Governor Whitmer has included making the $2.25 increase permanent in her FY 22 budget but it still has to pass through the legislature.  We are advocating to make this wage increase permanent to address the long-standing staffing crisis created by low wages and high turnover among direct care workers.

ABOUT THE ISSUE

• The economy depends on caregivers. Families can NOT provide all the caregiving.
• Direct Care Workers (DCWs) provide critical support for older adults, people living with disabilities, and families in their homes and residential communities.
• Direct care work is skilled work. There is a profound shortage of DCWs and astronomical turnover. Care Providers are struggling to meet demand. COVID-19 has made it worse. Michigan needs 134K more skilled DCWs right now and 178k DCWs by 2028!
• Recruiting DCWs is nearly impossible. The average hourly wage for DCWs in Michigan is $10-$13, depending on the sector. Low wages and a lack of benefits, guaranteed hours, training, and respect mean DCW jobs can’t compete with retail or food service work.
• Most DCWs love their job and want to work as a DCW – not in food service/retail. They’re forced to work multiple jobs or leave the field.
• To stabilize and grow this essential workforce, DCWs must be respected and compensated commensurate with their skill and critical contribution to the economy. DCWs deserve a living wage, affordable and comprehensive healthcare, paid time off, and competency-based training and credentialing.

ACTIONS NEEDED

PLEASE CALL, TEXT OR EMAIL your state representative and state senator.

ASK THEM to extend and expand the $2.25/hr. DCW premium pay. Include benefits, sufficient administrative increments, annual cost of living increases tied to inflation, and a special fund to support DCW training leading to a recognized credential.

EXPLAIN that a staff wage increase advances the objectives of improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and increasing their access to supports and services

SHARE your story: how the staffing crisis negatively affects you, as a person receiving services, family member, direct care worker or service provider.  Here is a survey from the University of Minnesota detailing the effects of the pandemic on an already dire crisis.

TIMING

The time to contact your legislators is now!  MDHHS must submit their plan for how to spend COVID relief funds by July 21, 2021.  We would like to see these items included in their plans.

Find your state representative here: 
http://house.michigan.gov/mhrpublic/frmFindaRep.aspx

Find your state senator here: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html

The Impact Alliance has developed a letter writing campaign through resistbot, a free and widely used text messaging service designed specifically to support civic engagement and advocacy. To join the campaign, follow these steps:

1. Text PBIMOS to 50409.
2. You will be asked a number of questions including your name, email address, and home address. This is important, because your home address will help resistbot identify your specific State legislators.
3. Once you submit all your information and agree – the following message will automatically be sent to YOUR legislators.

Now, more than ever, we see just how essential direct care workers (DCWs) are to the well-being of older adults and persons living with disabilities. They support our loved ones, our partners, and our neighbors on a daily basis. And yet, DCWs struggle under poverty wages – often under $12/hour – inadequate benefits like paid time off or health insurance, and a lack of recognition and respect for their critical role in our care economy. It’s estimated Michigan will need to fill 178k DCW jobs by 2028 to meet rising demand. We’re already seeing the damaging effects of a workforce shortage – persons living with disabilities and older adults unable to secure the support they need to remain healthy and safe within their own communities. Now is the time to act. We must compensate this workforce commensurate with the essential nature of their work, their high level of skill, and their commitment to caring for others. I strongly urge you to support extending and expanding the $2.25/hour DCW premium pay, including benefits, annual cost of living increases tied to inflation, and a special fund to support DCW training that leads to a recognized credential and career pathway. Together, we can create a care infrastructure that honors older adults, persons living with disabilities, and the direct care workers who we all rely on. Thank you.

WHAT IS GOING ON?  

US Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA), Susan Wild (D-PA) and Susie Lee (D-NV) have introduced the Direct Creation, Advancement, and Retention of Employment (CARE) Opportunity Act, legislation invests more than $1 billion over five years in training and increasing opportunities for our nation’s direct care workers.  The Direct CARE Opportunity Act aligns with a key piece of the American Jobs Plan, which calls for significant investments to meet the surging demand for home and community-based services.

To meet the need for a well-trained and empowered direct care workforce, the Direct CARE Opportunity Act:

  • Invests in strategies to recruit, retain and advance the direct care workforce pipeline;
  • Implements models and strategies to make the field of direct care more attractive, including training, career pathways, and mentoring, which will allow for local and regional innovation to address workforce shortages and needs;
  • Encourages retention and career advancement in the growing field of direct care;
  • Responds to the needs of a growing aging population and allows older Americans, people with disabilities, and others who require direct care services to remain in their communities, when possible,
  • Supports the health and wellbeing of those who need and rely on direct care services, helping to prevent costlier institutional care.

ABOUT THE ISSUE

There is a nationwide direct care worker shortage.

• People with developmental disabilities or mental illness rely on direct care workers for essential supports which enable them to access their community, work, and live full, meaningful lives. 
• Inadequate wages have created a critical direct care shortage. 
• Turnover rates average 37%. Some providers have been forced to discontinue services.
• Direct care starting wages, which are tied to Medicaid funding, are too low. Service providers cannot compete with other businesses that hire at the same level, often with fewer work demands.

ACTIONS NEEDED

PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL your US representatives and Senators.

ASK THEM to support the Direct Care Opportunity Act.

EXPLAIN that the bill will help create 3 million jobs for direct care workers in the country as well as work towards greater pay and advancement opportunities for this vital workforce.

SHARE your story: how the staffing crisis negatively affects you, as a person receiving services, family member, direct care worker or service provider.

TIMING

The time to contact your legislators is now!

Click here to find your US representative.

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