Archive for December, 2008

DCA Asks President-elect Obama to include DCWs in Stimulus Package

Posted by on December 15th, 2008 at 2:32 pm | 5 Comments »

The Direct Care Alliance has sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama (PDF), asking him to include direct care jobs in the economic stimulus package he plans to institute soon after taking office.

 “While we support investment in basic infrastructure and ‘green jobs,’ we also emphasize the strong need to generate ‘pink jobs’ that create or improve opportunities for women,” the letter says. “Many of these jobs are in the care sector of our economy, and a number of economists have emphasized the long-run benefits of public investment in that sector.”

Vega Joins New Eldercare Workforce Alliance

Posted by on December 11th, 2008 at 4:07 pm | 1 Comment »

DCA Executive Director Leonila Vega is a founding member of a new national advocacy alliance created to address the crisis in caring for an aging America. 

The Eldercare Workforce Alliance was born out of the Institute of Medicine report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce,  which called for investing in our health care workforce to ensure that we can care for older Americans and their families as the baby boomers age. 

 The group has secured funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Hartford Foundation, and its own member organizations to hire staff. It has also begun to mold an ambitious advocacy agenda.

 The lack of support for direct care workers is a major concern of the Alliance. Its goals include expanding training standards, addressing staff shortages for direct care workers, and advocating for a national minimum wage and benefit standard.

“The Eldercare Workforce Alliance has great promise to support and assist the DCA’s goals to build a respected and valued direct care workforce,” says Vega.  “I look for big things to come out this group that will be closely connected to the DCA’s efforts to affect national policy.”

Elise Nakhnikian
Communications Director
Direct Care Alliance

Opportunities for the long term care workforce in the new administration

Posted by on December 9th, 2008 at 6:10 am | Comments Off on Opportunities for the long term care workforce in the new administration

The DCA’s National Direct Care Partnership will conduct a conference call on December 11 at 3pm featuring a briefing by Howard Bedlin on opportunities for the long term care workforce in the new administration. His talk will describe the political process in Washington, DC, and include a quick overview of current bills before the congress.

Mr. Bedlin is the vice president for Public Policy and Advocacy for the National Council on Aging (NCOA). He is responsible for all of NCOA’s federal and state legislative advocacy efforts on issues and programs of concern to older adults, which include the Older Americans Act, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, income security, and community services programs. He is also a member of the Direct Care Alliance’s Advocacy Committee.

For details, contact Roy Gedat at

Giving Legislators What They Want: The Direct Care Worker Perspective

Posted by on December 9th, 2008 at 5:15 am | Comments Off on Giving Legislators What They Want: The Direct Care Worker Perspective

Brenda Nachtway with Senator Casey

Brenda Nachtway with Senator Casey

Last month, I drove to Washington, D.C., to talk to legislators and their staff about what direct care workers want.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten up close and personal with politicians. In 2007, I organized a direct care worker forum for U.S. Senator Robert Casey. Senator Casey came to the hospital where I work (I’m a hospice aide). He spoke to the direct care workers who showed up to see him, but I think what he liked best was the chance he got to listen and learn. He really seemed interested what the workers had to say in the Q and A after his speech, and he asked me a lot of questions about my job and what could help me do it better.

So it wasn’t exactly news to me to learn, last month, that legislators want to hear from direct care workers. But hearing it so many times – it must have been repeated at least five times during that two-day visit – really drove home the message.

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Women Fighting for Women

Posted by on December 2nd, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Comments Off on Women Fighting for Women

I attended a fabulous conference on women and work at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Initially, I was thrilled to attend because I am curious about women-related issues. I’ve raised my 10-year old daughter single-handedly while putting myself through college as a direct care worker. I have a sense of pride that as a woman that I have been able to accomplish this without losing my enthusiasm for what I do every day. It fascinates me to learn about how other women handle their multiple responsibilities of work, family, and community. Where I live, many women stay home with their children, sometimes even after their youngest is in school full-time. I have wondered about what motivates women to make decisions about work and career.

I wasn’t sure about how the topic related to me as a direct care worker advocate, however. In my mind, the only connection I was making to direct care worker (DCW) issues was: most direct care workers are women. But attending Women & Work: Choices & Constraints made me think about other issues.

For instance, not only are most DCWs women, but they are underpaid, under-recognized, and not invested in as professionals. Most do not earn a livable income or have health insurance. They have almost no representation — only a few passionate advocates compared to their vast numbers. Most have no job security. If they experience a personal or family emergency, such as an accident or illness, many can’t afford to miss work. If they did, they could face a complete breakdown of their already fragile situation.

Obviously, the struggles of DCWs are huge. Let me be direct. Many social factors come into play that create this perfect storm scenario: discrimination against women, discrimination against low-wage workers, discrimination against people with disabilities and people who are aging. These are some of the broader social issues that exist.

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