Bright and early on Tuesday Dec. 17, more than 100 home care workers, and their friends and families, converged on the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors’ meeting to sing a Christmas carol calling for fair wages and compensation. We need the county to support our Quality Care @ Home and help us to put our Community First!
To the tune of “This Little Light of Mine” we performed our rendition of “This Little Wage of Mine,” which included the lyrics, “This little wage of mine, ain’t gonna pay my rent, this little wage of mine ain’t gonna pay by bills…”
Fred Wikkeling, a home care provider who takes care of his elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, introduced the carolers and addressed members of the Board:
“When the economy was in bad shape a few years back, the county came to us and said you needed our help… we started contributing more toward our health care costs. We accepted a salary cut. This from a group of workers who are among the lowest paid in the county. But now, the economy is improving and other county workforces have been able to see their contracts reflect economic improvements. We are here to ask you: Are home care workers different than other county workers?”
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Similar to fast-food workers who are waging a campaign to earn decent wages, Santa Clara County’s more-than-15,000 home care providers barely make enough to get by. Their work is not very visible to the public, but thousands of lives are entrusted in their care and their services allow clients to live independently, and with dignity, at home.
The state’s population is aging and the need for in-home care will only grow in the future. Today, Santa Clara County has about 200,000 individuals who are over 65 years old. By 2030, that’s going to double to be more than 1 in 5 residents. Santa Clara County has identified transportation and home health to be two of the most pressing needs for this segment of the population.
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Our Home Care workers help clients to live independently and with dignity at home; yet workers earn 63 percent below the living wage.
We are 17,600 Home Care workers who provide professional, personalized care to residents in Santa Clara County who are seniors, children and adults with disabilities through the In-Home Supportive Services program. As in-home care providers, our services help more than 17,000 clients to live independently and with dignity at home.
Given that the population is aging and the need for In-Home Supportive Services will only grow in the future, Santa Clara County needs to put our Community First and:
- Provide professional, personalized home care services
- Invest in and develop the home care workforce
- Increase access to home care through improved public awareness