Archive for ‘New York’

Home Care Workers Rising

Posted by on October 14th, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Comments Off on Home Care Workers Rising

forest of signs 2The 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 »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on July 16th, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

A new rule proposed by US DOL would raise the minimum wage for VA hospital CNAs and other federal contractors to $10.10 an hour.

A new guidance and updated fact sheet from U.S. Department of Labor help states make sure home care workers are paid fairly under the minimum wage and overtime rule.

Another excellent New York Times editorial on why U.S. Department of Labor must resist pressure to delay implementing the minimum wage and overtime rule for home care workers.

A family member, National Nurses United and a professor of labor and employment studies on the disaster that is the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn ruling.

A small raise for Massachusetts home care aides is a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go yet. Continue reading »

Obamacare Gave Me Back My Medicaid Coverage

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Comments Off on Obamacare Gave Me Back My Medicaid Coverage

Dorothy Lee is a home health aide living in New York City who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), with the help of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative.

Dorothy Lee

Dorothy Lee

I’ve been working for an agency here in New York for three years. Before that, I worked at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida. When I moved here I wanted to switch to working with the elderly. I like working with people, and when my grandmother was old I didn’t get to give her any attention. It feels good to be able to help other people’s grandparents.

When I worked at the hotel I had insurance through Aetna, but I started going without insurance soon after I started doing home health care. At first I had Medicaid through Health Plus, but they took it away because I was earning too much. They said I have to make less than $700 a month to get back on Medicaid.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on April 22nd, 2014 at 11:54 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz will be one of the participants at a May 8 Capitol Hill briefing on long-term care hosted by OWL – the Voice of Midlife and Older Women. Jessica will explain the importance of direct care workers and the direct care workforce issues that must be addressed in order to ensure quality long-term care services and supports for all who need them.

A new bill would create advanced positions for CNAs with specialized skills in care transitions, dementia and other areas. 

An issue brief from Center for Law and Social Policy looks at the challenges many direct care workers and other low-income parents face as they cope with scheduling child care and other difficulties caused by volatile job schedules.

We must pay home care workers enough to support themselves and their families, say state senator Patricia Jehlen and Executive Director Lisa Gurgone of the Home Care Aide Council in Massachusetts.  Continue reading »

Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers

Posted by on April 17th, 2014 at 11:21 am | Comments Off on Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers

DCA’s Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative has been helping direct care workers and other low-income workers in New York state get affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Hadas Thier, the Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator for the initiative, recently answered questions from DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about how the new law is helping direct care workers–and what could be done to make it work even better.

Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach

Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach

How were you able to help direct care workers with health insurance enrollment?

Over the last six months, we’ve reached out to hundreds of direct care workers in New York with information and assistance. It’s been really important to have an aggressive outreach campaign because so many people do not know what the Affordable Care Act is, how its marketplace works, and how it applies to them. This is doubly the case with many direct care workers, who may not have access to information through the internet, who may experience language barriers, and who often are isolated at their jobs if they work in individual homes.

Most of the direct care workers I spoke to had heard of “Obamacare” and wanted desperately to have health insurance, but did not know how to go about doing so. Across the board, workers were grateful to have clear information about what coverage options might be available to them and their families.  Continue reading »

Getting the Care I Need So I Can Provide Care

Posted by on April 7th, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Comments Off on Getting the Care I Need So I Can Provide Care

Valrie Broughton is a home health aide living in New York City. She started working in home care in 2000 in her native Jamaica. After getting health insurance with the help of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative, she shared her story with DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian.

Valrie Broughton

Valrie Broughton

I started working in home care because of my grandmother. When she was ill, no one was there to really take care of her. I couldn’t take care of her properly myself because I had to take care of my kids and work. After she passed away, I decided to become an LPN in my country, Jamaica, so I could help other people in need.

I started working in home care in 2000. I only stopped for a few months when I came to this country last April and could not get work for a while. I love this work. I enjoy being around older people, talking to them, taking care of their needs, giving them hope.

Since I came to New York, I’ve been living with my son. It’s been hard on him because he has to pay back his student loan and support himself, and now he has to support me too. But last month, I found a home care agency that trained me for my U.S. home health aide certification. I passed the test this week, so they just hired me.

I went without any health care for many months after moving here because I couldn’t find anyone who would cover me if I wasn’t working. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on March 24th, 2014 at 11:44 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

Watch HBO’s Paycheck to Paycheck, the story of CNA and single mother Katrina Gilbert, free of charge on the Shriver Report website.

A brief on the problems caused by unstable work schedules–like those of home care workers–and policy approaches that would help.

A New York Times feature about the challenges of raising a family on under $10.10 an hour  features Erika McCurdy, a nurse’s aide in Tennessee.

Unions and the state of California are battling over the right to overtime pay for IHSS home care workers.

The executive director of an ARC in New York state urged the legislature to include a 3 percent raise for direct service staff, saying low wages make recruitment and retention difficult.

More progress on paid sick days: New York’s mayor has signed a measure that will extend paid sick days to 1.3 million more New Yorkers as of April 1 and a National Partnership for Women & Families fact sheet presents evidence of the economic benefits of paid sick days from the four jurisdictions with the longest-running laws: San Francisco, Washington, DC, Connecticut and Seattle.

Get Direct Care Workers Covered: A Home Care Aide Relieved to Have Health Care Coverage but Wishing It Were Even Cheaper

Posted by on February 24th, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Comments Off on Get Direct Care Workers Covered: A Home Care Aide Relieved to Have Health Care Coverage but Wishing It Were Even Cheaper

got-coverage-bannerBeverly, a home health aide in New York City, usually works 5 days a week for 7 hours a day, but her hours—and therefore her pay—fluctuate, as they do for most home care workers. At just $10.58 an hour, she earned about $18,000 last year. For her first five years on the job, her earnings were low enough that she qualified for health insurance though Medicaid, but in 2012 she lost her coverage.

Beverly has high blood pressure and asthma, two chronic health conditions that get much worse if she can’t afford the medications needed to manage them. She also has to have mammograms every six months ever since abnormal cells were found on a biopsy. “You definitely have to have health insurance,” she says.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on February 24th, 2014 at 11:04 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

“It’s way, way deeper than just a job,” says one of the home care workers in this article about going the extra mile to get to clients during this winter’s storms.

Personal support workers in Illinois and home care workers in Washington rallied for higher wages.

A home heath aide and single mother in Texas is typical of the new wave of food stamp recipients.

Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice on why the fight for direct care worker rights is a fight for racial justice.

AFSCME’s Laura Reyes on the sexist agenda hidden in the Supreme Court case about unions and home care workers.

Nurse’s aide Timikia Craig, winner of a $1,000 scholarship, on what drew her to direct care work and what it means to her.

After reading about a jobless home care worker in Pennsylvania whose unemployment benefits were ending, the wife of a Virginia man with end-stage dementia who relies on home care paid the worker’s mortgage for a month.

We must increase wages for direct support professionals, says a letter to the editor by staff of Arc Maryland.

DCA’s Voices Institute Goes to Brooklyn

Posted by on October 8th, 2013 at 9:14 am | Comments Off on DCA’s Voices Institute Goes to Brooklyn
Carla Washington (front right) with the Brookyn attendees

Carla Washington (front right) with the Brookyn attendees.

What an amazing group of direct care workers I got to meet on September 25 and 26, at a Voices Institute training for CenterLight Best Choice Home Care in Brooklyn, New York! Direct Care Alliance Executive Director Carla Washington and I led the training for 19 home health aides, who had a total of 103 years of direct care experience between them.

As we did our introductions on the first day, the group shared their challenges and the passion for their work that makes them get up every morning to do it all over again, with smiles on their faces. One worker talked about a colleague who was also there, saying she went above and beyond the call of duty by taking a long subway ride and then walking 20 minutes to get to one of her clients. The woman she was talking about said: “But this is my job! I would do that for any one of my clients.”  Continue reading »

One Day to Open Enrollment: Get Direct Care Workers Covered!

Posted by on September 30th, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Comments Off on One Day to Open Enrollment: Get Direct Care Workers Covered!

got-coverage-sm-lighterDownload our press release.

Direct Care Alliance is thrilled to be joining dozens of community-based organizations across New York State in a campaign to help direct care workers and others get quality, affordable health insurance.

New York State of Health-–a simple and affordable way to get coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act–-will open tomorrow, providing a historic opportunity for tens of thousands of New York’s uninsured and underinsured direct care workers to obtain free or discounted health insurance. Continue reading »

Let’s Get Direct Care Workers Covered!

Posted by on July 29th, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Comments Off on Let’s Get Direct Care Workers Covered!
Carla D. Washington

Carla D. Washington

DCA is thrilled to announce its new initiative, Get Direct Care Workers Covered. Thanks to the generous support of the New York State Health Foundation, Get Direct Care Workers Covered will help direct care workers and other uninsured individuals throughout New York State get health insurance through the New York State Health Benefit Exchange which opens on October 1, 2013.

The launch of the Exchange and expansion of Medicaid creates a historic opportunity to increase the number of direct care workers with health insurance. Get Direct Care Workers Covered is an education and enrollment initiative that will ensure that the benefits of health care reform reach low-income and immigrant communities. Given that approximately 2.7 million New Yorkers – including over 85,000 direct care workers – are uninsured, this is a critical development in our work to improve the health and economic and security of uninsured direct care workers and individuals throughout the state.

Continue reading »

New York City Workers Win Paid Sick Days

Posted by on July 2nd, 2013 at 9:24 am | Comments Off on New York City Workers Win Paid Sick Days

sickdaysNew York City workers gained significant sick day rights last week, following the New York City Council’s June 27th 47-4 vote to override Mayor Bloomberg’s previous veto of the Paid Sick Time Act. As a result, more than one million workers in New York City will have the right to earn up to five days (40 hours) of paid sick leave per year.

The passage of the Paid Sick Days Act is a huge victory for eligible New York City workers, who will now be able to take time off from work to recover from sickness or to take care of family members — without having to worry about losing their jobs or risking their financial security. Paid sick days are particularly important for direct care workers, whose typically low wages, high rates of chronic conditions and job-related injuries make it crucial for them to be able to address their own health needs without worrying about losing wages or losing their jobs — or risking the health and safety of those for whom they provide care, services and support.

Continue reading »

Paid Sick Days Movement Wins Major Victory in New York City

Posted by on April 2nd, 2013 at 9:06 am | Comments Off on Paid Sick Days Movement Wins Major Victory in New York City

psd graphic from National PartnershipThe movement to win paid sick leave for the nation’s workers won a major victory in New York City last week, when an agreement was reached on a bill that would require all employers in the city with at least 15 employees to give their full-time workers five paid sick days a year. A similar victory was just won in Portland, Oregon, and the Philadelphia city council recently passed a paid sick days bill.

The Philadelphia and New York City bills have not yet been enacted, and both city’s mayors are expected to veto them. Support from New York’s city council is expected to be strong enough to override the veto, but Philadelphia was one vote shy of a strong enough majority to override a mayoral veto. 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

Growing the Movement in 2013

Posted by on January 3rd, 2013 at 10:19 am | Comments Off on Growing the Movement in 2013

Tracy Dudzinski

As I look back on all that DCA has accomplished in 2012, I can’t wait to see what we’ll get done in 2013. I truly believe that the growing wave of aging baby boomers is about to meet up with the growing pressure from DCA and our many wonderful allies to create a perfect storm of awareness, a storm that will finally push our issue—the need for better care quality for elders and people with disabilities and better job quality for the direct care workers they depend on—onto the national agenda.

2012 was a busy year. Our movement lost a great champion when Leonila passed away in November, but we will celebrate her legacy by remaining committed to training and supporting direct care worker leaders and growing our movement to make their voices heard and direct care a respected profession. Continue reading »

Why Nursing Homes Need More of Us CNAs

Posted by on October 30th, 2012 at 8:56 am | 3 Comments »

Karla Lawrence

I’m a CNA at a nursing home in the Bronx, where I work the night shift. I’ve been working here for 12 years, and for eight years before that I did home care. I love being a caregiver, but I wish we had more staff so I could provide more person-centered care without having to stay late every morning.

There are 40 residents on my unit. Every night, I take care of half of them while another CNA is assigned to the other half. When the other aide is on break, I’m responsible for all 40 at once: If one of her residents needs something, I take care of it.

The residents are asleep most of the time at night, but they still need a lot. We have to brush all their teeth and give them all bed baths. We have to change their incontinence briefs at night, twice per person. A lot of them are young, and they don’t go to sleep early. And the older people sometimes need to get up a lot to go to the bathroom. Sometimes you are going back and forth answering the bell all night because someone needs a urinal, needs to go to the bathroom, needs a drink of water.  Continue reading »

Making Our Voices Heard on the National Day of Action

Posted by on September 25th, 2012 at 10:42 am | 13 Comments »

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 »

Worker Rights Champion on Winning a Battle and Waging a War

Posted by on August 27th, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Comments Off on Worker Rights Champion on Winning a Battle and Waging a War

This summer, National Employment Law Project (NELP) Legal Co-Director Catherine K. Ruckelshaus won the first class-action suit ever for home care workers in New York. Last week, Ruckelshaus talked to DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about that victory and the related campaign to win the right to minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers nationwide, in which NELP and DCA are key players.

Catherine Ruckelshaus

What did you win in New York this summer?

The case was brought on behalf of a group of home care workers who worked for McMillan’s Home Care Agency, a small agency in New York City. We brought the case as a class because McMillan’s wasn’t paying overtime, and it wasn’t paying wages for some of the hours worked. In some cases, what people earned didn’t even add up to minimum wage.

That’s not because the agency actually paid less than the minimum wage per hour, but because some people worked so many hours for no pay that they wound up averaging less than minimum wage, right?

Right. They didn’t pay any overtime and they often didn’t pay travel time. If a worker had to travel a lot between clients, that could bring her total average wages below the minimum wage.  Continue reading »