Today Council voted to unanimously support Resolution 31388, supporting the local and national Caring Across Generations campaign that seeks to transform long term care in the U.S., both to help the individuals who rely on these services and to support the workers who provide home care. Seattle is the first city in the country to adopt such a resolution and I am proud of our actions today.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to walk a day in the shoes of a home care provider named Lawrence. Lawrence cares for a man named Greg, who is paraplegic from an accident a few years ago. Greg’s accident and the resulting health care costs have been a big burden to Greg and his partner. Being able to receive care in his home has helped reduce some of that financial and psychological strain. I think we would all prefer to receive care in our own home versus a hospital or nursing home, and thankfully, because of people like Lawrence, Greg can get the care he needs in the comforts of his own home.
The in home care model also saves the public money. Institutional care is considerably more expensive, and often those costs fall on governments. We can provide better care and save taxpayer money, which is a good thing as long as we are also committed to providing fair wages and benefits to the workers providing the care.
Here is a video put together by SEIU 775, a labor union of long-term care workers that strives to make sure that the people who are taking care of our loved ones are compensated fairly and receive the training they need to provide quality care. I am thankful to SEIU for providing me with this humbling, moving experience.
Below is text of the resolution we passed today, and here is a link to the Caring Across Generations campaign that many great organizations in Washington are a part of, including Casa Latina, Washington Community Action Network, SEIU 775, the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, and others.
A RESOLUTION supporting the Caring Across Generations campaign that seeks to transform long term care in the U.S., both to help the individuals who rely on these services and to support the workers who provide home care.
WHEREAS, our country is facing a “care gap”, with the population of individuals who need long-term direct care services expected to grow to 27 million in 2050, while the current direct care workforce is 3 million; and
WHEREAS, in the state of Washington, recent federal government reports indicate that 16.2% of residents receive Social Security benefits, 14.6% of residents receive Medicare benefits, and 15.4% of residents receive Medicaid benefits and depend on these vital programs as a foundation for their economic survival; and
WHEREAS, according to the 2010 Census, 10.3% of the Seattle population is 65 or older, and 12.1% of the population is between the ages of 55 and 64; and
WHEREAS, in Seattle, 3,792 individuals receive home care support through DSHS, and the number will grow as the baby-boomers age; and
WHEREAS, additionally, 21% of the U.S. adult population age 18 and older provides unpaid care to an adult age 18 or older; and
WHEREAS, caring for the aging and people with disabilities is among our most important responsibilities as a nation, yet across the country individuals and families are struggling to find quality care that meets their full range of needs, and is dependable and affordable; and
WHEREAS, seniors and individuals with disabilities thrive in communities that provide choice as well as access to in-home care and integration, and in turn, communities thrive when they are diverse and inclusive of seniors and people with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, home and community based care options are often more affordable and more cost effective than larger residential care settings, yet the direct care workforce in these settings is not protected by many important labor laws, including overtime protection and minimum wage- creating substandard working conditions that threaten the standards for all working people; and
WHEREAS, in King County, 62.5% of direct care workers earn less than 200% of the poverty level, and in Seattle, the care workforce is made up of 65.4% people of color and only 24.4% of home care workers have employer-sponsored health insurance; and
WHEREAS, the direct care workforce does not have uniform training standards and a meaningful career ladder that provides opportunities for advancement; and
WHEREAS, immigrants are filling the vital role of care workers all over the country, but the lack of a pathway to citizenship pushes workers into an underground economy, and destabilizes our communities through the constant threat of deportation; and
WHEREAS, because all members of our society deserve a dignified quality of life, and dignified, quality jobs, Seattle is one of over 15 cities across the country hosting a Care Congress, bringing together family care givers, long-term care workers, domestic workers, care recipients and families to build across generations for change; and
WHEREAS, our federal, state and local governments have the responsibility to make policy changes that address these needs.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE, THE MAYOR CONCURRING, THAT:
Section 1. The City of Seattle supports the Caring Across Generations campaign. The campaign’s policy agenda calls on our country to:
a. Protect a worker’s right to organize;
b. Fund increased access to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security;
c. Increase the number of living wage jobs with access to health insurance, other benefits, and health and safety protections necessary to meet the growing demand for direct care;
d. Enable rewarding career paths with linguistically and culturally relevant training programs to improve quality of care and safety for care workers;
e. Provide a path to legal status and citizenship for undocumented care workers and their families that is tied to participation in training and certification programs;
f. Support individuals and families who hire direct care workers by creating a tax credit, adding long term care coverage as part of the Medicare coverage package, and by providing training and assistance on how to hire and retain direct care workers; and
g. Support for individuals and families who are providing unpaid kin care, through Social Security care-giving credits, paid family leave, and childcare subsidies.
Section 2. Seattle City Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) will promote these interests with local, regional, state, federal and governments, including the National League of Cities, and support legislation that advances the Caring Across Generations campaign, including Senate Resolution 453.