Archive for February, 2013

What I Told My State Senators About Medicaid Expansion

Posted by on February 26th, 2013 at 9:10 am | 1 Comment »

Mohan Varghese

When I was first asked to testify to the South Dakota Senate Health and Human Services Committee about why we direct care workers need the state to expand Medicaid coverage under the new health care law, I wasn’t sure I could afford to go. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive, and I only had $60 to last until the end of the month. If I went, what would I use to buy the gas I need to get to work after I got back home?

But I wound up deciding I couldn’t afford not to go.

As a home care worker for a man who is quadriplegic, I don’t get health insurance through my work, and I don’t earn enough to buy insurance on the open market. That creates some very serious problems. Continue reading »

Join DCA to Help Support Your Profession – and Your Family

Posted by on February 26th, 2013 at 9:09 am | Comments Off on Join DCA to Help Support Your Profession – and Your Family

Brenda Nachtway

We direct care workers are so busy doing and caring for others that we often don’t have time to take care of ourselves, especially if we have children or aging parents of our own at home to look after. But there’s one quick thing you can do to help yourself and your family while also standing up for your profession: Become a member of Direct Care Alliance (DCA).

Your DCA membership provides benefits that help you provide for your family’s needs. You get a medical and prescription discount card, which you and anyone who lives at the same address can use to receive discounts on prescriptions and services provided by participating health care professionals.  The card also gets you discounts on doctor visits, dental and eye care, prescription drugs, surgical centers, MRIs and other imaging services, lab tests, hearing tests and services, diabetic services and more. It is accepted by over 450,000 physicians and ancillary care service providers nationwide. Continue reading »

New Members Bring New Experiences, Skills to DCA Board

Posted by on February 18th, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Comments Off on New Members Bring New Experiences, Skills to DCA Board

Karla Lawrence

We are thrilled to announce that Karla Lawrence, David Moreau and Abigail Solomon have joined DCA’s board of directors. Each of them are committed to improving direct care jobs and bring fresh perspectives that will help us continue to grow our movement.

Karla Lawrence is a direct care worker for 20 years, a DCA member and one of the participants in our National Day of Action last September. Karla first encountered DCA when she was nominated for its Voices Institute leadership training at the Bronx, New York, nursing home where she works. She is also a certified home health aide and certified in CPR.

Thanks to her facility’s Voices Institute program, Karla has since become a Senior Resident Care Associate, helping lead her fellow CNAs as they strive to provide person-centered care for all their residents. She is particularly interested in improving training and education for direct care workers. Continue reading »

The State of the Direct Care Workforce – and Why It Cannot Be Ignored

Posted by on February 18th, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Comments Off on The State of the Direct Care Workforce – and Why It Cannot Be Ignored

President Obama’s State of the Union address last week laid out a broad national agenda, and, as expected, placed tremendous emphasis on strengthening America’s economy and growing the middle class. The surprise, however, is that mention of direct care jobs was sorely missing from the conversation. While this was disappointing to Direct Care Alliance and the thousands of individual and organizational allies who advocate on direct care workforce issues, there are many ways in which DCA’s direct care jobs agenda fits into the narrative set by President Obama. It is clear that now, more than ever, our advocacy is imperative.

As President Obama stated, “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs — that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?” The President also called for immigration reform to help build a more robust workforce, economy and nation. But we must look beyond the manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, technology and housing jobs that are receiving a lot of attention – we must inject direct care jobs into this discussion about creating quality jobs, attracting dedicated and skilled people (from inside and outside of the U.S.) and training them for these jobs, and strengthening our economy in the process.

Here’s why the direct care workforce cannot be ignored: Direct care work cannot be exported. It’s a workforce composed largely of women and minorities and is made up of a significant number of undocumented immigrants. It is the fastest-growing workforce in the country and will be the largest in the nation by 2020. The benefits of investing in this workforce to our communities and the economy cannot be overstated.

Continue reading »

Reception to Honor the Work of Leonila Vega

Posted by on February 15th, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Comments Off on Reception to Honor the Work of Leonila Vega

Click to donate or RSVP.

To sponsor the reception, click to contact David Ward.


A Special Thank You to Our Sponsors!



American Society on Aging


The ANCOR Foundation

The Atlantic Philanthropies

Caring Across Generations

Catalina In-Home Services, Inc.

CenterLight Health System

Christopher A. Langston/The John A. Hartford Foundation

Cooperative Development Foundation

The Do Canto Group

Eldercare Workforce Alliance


Florida Professional Association of Care Givers

FHI 360

Ford Foundation

Hot Bread Kitchen

The Moriah Fund

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Employment Law Project

National Partnership for Women and Families

Pennsylvania Direct Care Worker Association


The Raben Group

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United


Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance

Join Us in Austin on March 5 for a Medicaid Rally

Posted by on February 10th, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Comments Off on Join Us in Austin on March 5 for a Medicaid Rally

On March 5, people from over 150 local, state and national organizations–including Direct Care Alliance (DCA)–will gather in Austin for a Texas Medicaid Matters advocacy day. Medicaid is the program that provides low-income individuals and families with crucial access to affordable health care. Together, we will call on legislators and policymakers to expand Medicaid so more direct care workers and other Texans have the health care they need.

DCA and Texas Well and Healthy, the grassroots campaign that is helping to organize the advocacy event, are covering the main participation costs for a limited number of attendees. We hope you will join us.

Space is limited. Contact us now to reserve your place! Continue reading »

Why We Direct Care Workers Need Paid Sick Days

Posted by on February 10th, 2013 at 3:11 pm | 4 Comments »

Tracy Dudzinski

Have you ever had to go to work when you are not feeling well? I have on several occasions, though I hated doing it.

I know nobody likes going to work when they are sick, but I had another reason to want to stay home: I didn’t want to expose the people I was caring for to whatever germs I was carrying. But as a direct care worker with a disabled husband, supporting a whole family on my wages plus what little we get from SSI, I could not afford not to work. We needed the paycheck, so I had no choice.  Continue reading »

A Call to Action, Amplified by Meetings with Fellow Advocates

Posted by on February 10th, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Comments Off on A Call to Action, Amplified by Meetings with Fellow Advocates

Jessica Brill Ortiz

Inspired by two events I attended last month, I’m feeling especially proud of the work Direct Care Alliance’s members and network are doing to equip and empower direct care workers. I’m also even more aware than usual of how important it is for us to keep fighting until we reach our goal.

The first conference was Health Action 2013, Families USA’s eighteenth annual conference. The other was a dialogue titled Home Economics: A Discussion about the Unregulated World of Domestic Work.  Both were Washington, DC-based events that attracted dedicated, passionate speakers and participants from across the country.

As speakers at both events reminded me, direct care workers and other advocates for other low and moderate-wage workers and their families have seen significant, exciting victories over the past several years. Continue reading »

An Imperfect Solution to a Common Conundrum

Posted by on February 4th, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Comments Off on An Imperfect Solution to a Common Conundrum

Danielle Frank

I’m a home health aide for Home Instead Senior Care in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I will have been there 14 years in March. Before that, I worked in hospitals as a psychiatric aide. All told, I’ve been a direct care worker for 25 years. It’s my calling.

My husband thought I should get a better-paying job, so I went back to college and took a business degree. I did well—I graduated at the top of the class. But computers are not for me. Health care is for me.

Sometimes, even though they have families, I am the only person there to care for my clients. They become like my family. When I take a case, I always put myself in their place and treat them the way I would want to be treated. I have a lot of beautiful letters that I get from the families of people I have cared for, and that is something you can never forget. I remember all my patients like they were here today.

I’ve been able to stay with the work that I love because I could take long periods of time off when I needed to take care of my husband and my parents. I’m grateful that my job was waiting for me when I came back. But taking all that time off without pay has been very hard on my family’s finances.  Continue reading »

Help the FMLA Help You

Posted by on February 4th, 2013 at 7:21 pm | 1 Comment »

 February 5 marks the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the family-friendly law that allows workers to take job-protected leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or seriously ill family member, or to recover from a serious health problem of their own. Vicki Shabo is director of work and family programs for the National Partnership for Women and Families, a leader in the effort to expand the FMLA so it can be of use to more workers. Ms. Shabo recently talked to DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about what FMLA does and doesn’t cover and the improvements she and her ally organizations—including Direct Care Alliance—are advocating for.

What does the FMLA do exactly, and who does it cover?

Vicki Shabo

The FMLA of 1993 is the nation’s only law that helps men and women manage work when family and medical needs arise. Eligible workers are entitled to 12 weeks of leave a year to deal with their own serious health condition or the serious health of a child, spouse or parent, or to care for a new baby or an adopted or foster child who has just come into the family. It also provides 26 weeks of protected leave per year for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin to care for a covered member of the military with a serious injury or illness.

So employers have to give you time off, but they don’t have to pay you for it?

It’s unpaid leave, but it’s job-protected. You can take the leave and come back to the same job, in most cases, or to an equivalent job. Your health insurance is also continued during that time, if you have health insurance. Continue reading »