DCA Maine has a long history of empowering direct care workers to speak up and voice their concerns on issues regarding their work. Members have testified before legislative committees, spoken with our elected representatives in Congress and taken part in work groups and coalitions to improve the conditions of direct care work.
Notable successes include two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); one for helping direct care workers to obtain health insurance through their employers and another for training direct care workers on core competencies so they can easily transfer from one population to another. We are also proud of being part of the campaign to remove the companionship exemption for home care workers from the Fair Labor Standards Act.
But a lot still needs to be done to create a world where direct care workers receive adequate pay, support and training to do the work we love. So when Direct Care Alliance let us know it had run out of out of funding, we looked for another group that could support our work.
The Maine People’s Alliance focuses on leadership development to increase the number of citizen leaders prepared to work for positive social changes. According to Organizing Director Kevin Simowitz, the MPA counts 32,000 members. It is a highly respected and active organization and quite possibly the perfect group to continue the work of advocating for direct care workers.
We believe the goals of the Maine People’s Alliance match our goals very well. Therefore, members of the Leadership Council of the Direct Care Alliance of Maine recently met with Kevin Simowitz to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding to join forces to advocate for direct care workers in Maine.
DCA-Maine will provide MPA with our membership lists and our financial resources, as well as a list of stakeholders and key players in the long term care network in Maine. In return, the MPA will maintain contact with direct care workers in Maine, organize meetings to determine their needs and goals, and maintain an online presence where workers can submit their stories and share their experiences. MPA will also provide advocacy training for direct care workers.
DCA-Maine will maintain contact in regards to development and implementation of advocacy training programs, and the MPA agrees to fight for a “seat at the table” for direct care workers in all workgroups and taskforces that affect our jobs.
We are hopeful this agreement will lead to support and encouragement for all direct care workers in Maine. The shape and form of Direct Care Alliance is changing, but the work of advocating for direct care workers continues.