Posted by Direct Care Alliance on October 14th, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Comments Off on Home Care Workers Rising
The following photos and stories are from the Voices Institute graduates, several of whom were also DCA board members, who represented Direct Care Alliance and their profession at the Home Care Workers Rising summit. The summit was hosted by Caring Across Generations in St. Louis on October 6 and 7.
It Rekindled the Fight in Me
I was fortunate to be invited to the Home Care Workers Rising summit by the Direct Care Alliance board of directors. The summit brought together members of the SEIU, AFSCME, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Hand in Hand, Caring Across Generations, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice to spark and rekindle the Home Care Worker fight for a job that is respected, pays a living wage, includes benefits and paid time off. We were home care workers and consumers, all sharing and learning what each other were doing in the fight to improve home care jobs. Continue reading »
Watch Respect: The Joy of Aides, a wonderful 20-minute documentary by Eva Sweeney, a woman with CP, about how to hire and manage aides and what it’s like when a direct care worker and a client work well together.
Posted by Bridget Siljander on April 6th, 2014 at 11:40 am | Comments Off on Fight for Direct Care Worker Raises Gaining Ground in Minnesota
Minnesota caregivers—also known as direct care workers or direct support professionals—have been fighting for many years to get the support that they need to continue doing the work that they love. Now that fight is gaining momentum in a big way, thanks to the 5% Campaign the Minnesota disability community is uniting around. The campaign is asking legislators for a 5% increase in funding for home and community-based services, 75% of which will go toward compensating caregivers. The funding would go to two state programs: Home and Community-Based Services and Intermediate Care Facilities for Developmental Disabilities.
Last month, people with disabilities, direct care workers and other advocates gathered for Disability Day at the Capitol. Minnesota Public Radio and Kare11, our local news station, both covered the event. Kare11 quoted Pam Gonnella of Eagan, whose daughter lives in a group home, about how important the workers there are to her daughter’s well-being. “Which is why it’s so important to raise wages and cut down on the turnover at group homes and home based agencies,” Eagan said. Continue reading »
Determined to win home care workers the respect and basic labor protections they deserve, direct care workers and their allies converged on Capitol Hill last Friday for a National Day of Action. The advocates visited their members of Congress to deliver an urgent message: We must guarantee home care workers the right to minimum wage and overtime pay. Meanwhile, hundreds of advocates across the nation delivered the same message in their home states, visiting members of Congress in their home offices, calling them on the phone, or signing petitions in support of the cause.
The event was sponsored by the Direct Care Alliance (DCA), in partnership with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). Many other national and local organizations also participated, spreading the word to their constituents.
On Capitol Hill
The more than 50 people who met in Washington, D.C. started the day with a morning orientation session led by DCA’s National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz. Continue reading »
In her opening remarks last Friday morning in Washington, D.C., DCA National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz urged the advocates heading to Capitol Hill for the National Day of Action to speak from personal experience when they talked to legislators and their staff about why home care workers need Fair Labor Standards Act protections. “Your stories are very powerful,” she said, “and you can tell them best.”
Their stories aren’t the only tool in these advocates’ belts, but they are certainly one of the most powerful, as seen in the following excerpts from conversations held after their Hill visits with DCA Communications Advisor Elise Nakhnikian.
Timothy Doe (L) waiting to board a train to DC.
“At Senator Kyl’s office, the staff member we talked to knew about the bill. He said his aunt is a caregiver, so he knows how hard we work. He also asked us what we do as caregivers. We described it from the top to the bottom, and he was very impressed.”
— Home care worker and DCA member Timothy Doe, Tucson, Arizona
“I told him the demand is great and the jobs are growing, but we can’t attract new people because we can tell them the job is great but the money is not good.”
A growing number of studies indicate that health coverage plays a powerful role in the recruitment and retention of direct service workers, with many workers leaving their jobs or careers due to a lack of affordable insurance. With that in mind, the Minnesota state legislature ordered a study in 2008 to determine how best to implement a rate increase aimed at allowing long-term care employers to purchase employee health insurance in the private market.
My colleagues and I at the Lewin Group and our partners at PHI conducted that study. In addition to conducting a review of the literature on health insurance in long-term care, we surveyed 772 long-term care employers and 910 workers—direct care workers, other caregivers, and those in dietary, maintenance, housekeeping and other departments. The recommendations we developed after doing our research apply to any state that wants to improve the stability of its long-term care workforce. Continue reading »
Anne Keithahn, a direct support professional (DSP) in Fairmont, Minnesota, and her friend and fellow DSP Amy Derrera are launching the Southern Minnesota Direct Care Alliance, a state chapter of the Direct Care Alliance, next month. We asked them to explain what they’re doing and why.
How did this idea get started? Anne: After talking to Brenda Nachtway several months ago, I decided to start a DCA state chapter here in Minnesota. I have known Amy for many years, so I asked her to help me get it started.
Since then, we’ve had many phone calls with Brenda learning more about the DCA and the issues it is involved with.
Tell us a little about yourselves. Anne: We both live in Fairmont, which is located in south-central Minnesota.
I’m a former CNA. I currently work as a DSP for adults with intellectual disabilities and as an independent living skills specialist for a center for independent living. I have 25 years of direct care worker experience.
Amy: I have 20 years experience as a DSP for adults with intellectual disabilities. I’ve also done home care work. I’m involved with the local ARC and I volunteer for a center for independent living.
What do you want to accomplish with the Southern Minnesota DCA? Amy: I’m concerned with seeing direct care workers get fair treatment, pay, and representation in the workforce. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on December 6th, 2011 at 10:58 am | Comments Off on Judge Temporarily Blocks 20% Pay Cut for Family Caregivers
As home health agency owner Tim Plant explained in a September 20 DCA blog post, Minnesota’s new budget included a 20 percent pay cut for personal care assistants who provide care to a relative. The cut was to have gone into effect October 1, but a dedicated group of activists worked hard to convince lawmakers and Department of Human Services administrative staff that it should not be enacted. The activists succeeded in getting the cut tabled, but more action is needed to ensure that it is permanently defeated, as Vice President Brigette Menger-Anderson of the Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota (DSPAM) explains in DSPAM’s newsletter. See below for the beginning of her article and a link to the rest.
In the last newsletter, we provided you with a legislative update, focusing on the unprecedented 20% rate cut for providers who were billing for PCA services provided by caregivers of family members. This statute deeply impacted the disability and DSP community immediately. Many providers reduced the wages of their workers to compensate for the reduction. Some DSPs recently blogged on the DCA that they are now down to $7.75 an hour and can’t even afford the gas to get to provide the supports that are needed. DSPs wrote into DSPAMs Facebook page and shared that they live in small rural towns and feel that it is unlikely to get someone else to fill these shifts and that the providers are banking on the genuine caring and giving nature of DSPs to continue to do their jobs.
What we need for our legislators and the general public to understand is that direct support workers are provided a service that is the least costly and offers the most opportunity for dignity and independence to the individuals who receive direct care services. Read the rest in the Winter 2011 I Am DSPAM newsletter, starting at the top of the 11th page.
We Minnesotans used to be full of pride for our prudent government and our tradition of fairness and equality for all citizens. Minnesota is the home state of “Happy Warrior” Hubert Humphrey, a former vice president of the United States and a lifelong champion of civil rights. But our proud state is becoming a national embarrassment, and some of our personal care assistants are about to pay a heavy price for our political dysfunction.
Most of you have probably heard about our failure to pass a state budget by the due date of June 30, which led to a state government shutdown for several weeks earlier this summer. When Governor Mark Dayton reconvened the legislature for a special session, it was conducted behind closed doors. The secretly approved budget that finally emerged includes dramatically fewer resources to help our most vulnerable citizens because the “no tax increase for millionaires’’ philosophy ruled the day. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on July 12th, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Muhanna S. Kakish of Minnesota
At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker, Muhanna S. Kakish to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Minnesota. DCA Speaks with Muhanna S. Kakish at 2011 Voices Institute Training.
Posted by Lindsay Short on May 6th, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Comments Off on Developing a State Association and Getting New Members
The Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota (DSPAM) has become an important part in the fight for the professionalism and respect for direct support professionals. Since joining DSPAM 3 years ago, I have witnessed the growth and movement that this organization has done and how dedicated each person involved is to the direct care workers of Minnesota.
Over the last year DSPAM has pushed full force to be involved with advocacy, leadership, and taking care of direct support professionals. Our most proud and biggest accomplishment was our event held last September to pamper Minnesota DSPs and to allow them to have a day where the roles were reversed. Providing free haircuts and manicures, thanks to Spa Blu, over 200 DSPs attended receiving the pampering and care they so deserve. Through this event we were able to increase our membership to reach our first membership goal of 250. All of us are so thankful to our sponsors, donators, volunteers, and partners that helped make this event possible. Continue reading »
Posted by Lindsay Short on December 21st, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Comments Off on DSPAM’s New President Plans to Build on Past Success
I am honored to have been elected president of the Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota as of next year.
Being a part of DSPAM over the last two years has been an eye-opening, life-changing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people on the DSPAM board of directors, and I’ve watched DSPAM turn into an amazing organization, overcoming many milestones and accomplishing many of its goals.
I work as a direct support professional with developmentally disabled adults in residential settings. One thing I have in common with just about all my coworkers is that we need to work more than 40 hours a week to make ends meet – and even so, too many of us can’t afford our employers’ health care coverage.
With the recent cutbacks by our state (Minnesota), most of our residential programs have cut out overtime and cut down the number of full-time positions, reducing the number of positions that receive health insurance and paid time off. That means nearly all of us have to work two to three jobs to make ends meet. Chances are, we don’t get enough hours from any one of them to qualify for health insurance. That’s a difficult, demoralizing way to live, especially for those of us who are dedicated to direct support work and have invested years of our lives in our careers. Continue reading »
Angel Saylor (R) with home care aide Kelvin Jefferson at a DCA focus group
The Direct Care Alliance’s signature program, the Voices Institute, is about to hold its second National Leadership Program. The week-long retreat is an intensive learning journey, and this year’s class is another remarkable group, which will surely join the pioneers from the VI inaugural class to leave its mark on the direct care worker movement. We are returning to the DeKoven Center, where the roots that were planted at the first Voices Institute National Leadership Program will again thrive.
This year, we are welcoming men and women who care for people of all ages in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, hospice, group homes, day programs, assisted living, and home- and community-based programs. Consistent with the DCA’s objectives to build a broadly inclusive movement of empowered direct care workers, the class of 2009 represents a wide spectrum of direct care workers. Continue reading »