When we realized that we could not keep our doors open past 2014, the board and staff of Direct Care Alliance began searching for a new home for our members and network. We thought the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) would be an ideal fit, so I am truly delighted to announce that they have agreed to become our new home.
It’s been a long process, but the papers were signed last week. NDWA looks forward to welcoming all the direct care workers, friends of direct care workers, and state organizations that were once affiliated with DCA, but first I wanted to tell you a little about why we chose them.
NDWA has been a strong and effective advocate for home care workers since its founding in 2007, and it seeks to transform care work in all settings as well. Its co-director, Ai-jen Poo, who won a MacArthur “Genius” grant last year and was chosen as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012, is committed to bringing respect and dignity to direct care work and clear at about what needs to change. As our own David Moreau put it after some of us heard her speak at a conference last summer, “Ai-Jen is so clear and powerful. When you listen to her, you know that people who care for others will be respected and valued. It will happen.”
In the past several years, NDWA has focused a lot of attention on transforming the way we care and improving the quality of the jobs of those who provide the care, most recently through Ai-jen’s new book, The Age of Dignity. With member organizations in 26 cities and 18 states, the organization is growing almost as fast as the direct care workforce.
NDWA is all about creating strength in unity, just as DCA was. Like DCA, they do that partly by bringing workers together and partly by helping people to understand the need to improve direct care jobs in order to meet the growing demand for high-quality care. Ai-jen and NDWA are also great believers in building unity between organizations, so a lot of their work is creating spaces that bring together like-minded organizations so they can work together more effectively.
We met NDWA in one of those groups, a network NDWA’s campaign Caring Across Generations pulled together to coordinate the work DCA and others were doing to guarantee home care workers minimum wage and overtime pay. Together, we multiplied our reach and our capabilities many times over, together we won, and together we celebrated in September 2013, after the Department of Labor amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to include home care workers.
Unfortunately, as you may know, our victory on that issue was temporarily undone by a federal judge, so we need to go back in action to get the rule reinstated. Already, homecare workers and consumers are joining together to ensure that dignified work receives dignified pay. Ai-jen and I will be in touch soon about how you can help support local and national efforts. Stay tuned for more information about other campaigns and programming that NDWA is working on to support caregivers across the country.
In the meantime, if you are a direct care worker, I hope you will consider becoming an NDWA member. And whatever your connection to direct care work, you can keep up with what NDWA is doing by signing up for its free email alerts.
I hope you’re as excited as I am about this wonderful new opportunity to improve job quality for direct care workers and care quality for the people we assist. Together we can!