Cap on IHSS care will hurt California’s most vulnerable

Surely this isn’t what President Obama intended

Andrea (left) is a home care client who lives with and received professional care from her sister, Tonya York.  Governor Brown's proposal would plunge them into poverty and cost them their home.

Andrea (left) is a home care client who lives with and receives professional care from her sister, Tonya York. Governor Brown’s proposal would plunge them into poverty and cost them their home.

President Obama last year issued an executive order that extends the same minimum wage and overtime protections enjoyed by nearly all hourly workers to the nation’s home care workforce. Finally, home care workers were being recognized for the crucial care that they provide to many of our most vulnerable residents.

Unfortunately, instead of paying home care workers fairly, California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a cap on the number of hours that In-Home Supportive Services providers can work in any given week.

The governor has introduced an ill-conceived plan with unacceptable consequences. Limiting provider hours undermines the continuity of care for those who need it most — home care clients with serious illnesses and disabilities. It also drastically and suddenly slashes the paychecks for those home care workers who currently work more than 40 hours per week.

An ill-conceived plan with unacceptable consequences

Under Gov. Brown’s hours cap, not only will home care workers not get overtime pay, many will see $1,000 or more disappear from their monthly paycheck. For an industry that already woefully underpays its workers, this will push many into poverty and out of their homes.

This is the case for Tonya York, who has been caring for her sister, Andrea, for the last 18 years.  Andrea suffers from developmental disability, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and is legally blind. Her mental and physical health are fragile and she is completely dependent on her sister.

“I am committed to keeping Andrea safe, with me and out of an institution,” says Tonya. “This is a tough situation, but we’ve worked hard to make it stable. Any little stress can cause her to have a psychotic episode.”

Aside from the negative effects on Andrea’s health, the governor’s plan would have the unintended consequence of plunging both Tonya and her sister into poverty. The limit on the hours that Tonya could work would slash their household income by almost a third.

“We’re would we live? What would we eat? Our landlord is not going to accept ‘oh my pay was cut by a thousand dollars, so you’re going to have to cut my rent.’ We’d lose our home,” explains Tonya.

Meanwhile, California’s economy has recovered from the recession and revenues are projected to grow by 5.9% this year.

Check out the Family Photo Album

Download our Family Photo Album (.pdf) featuring the stories of other workers and families.

If you or one of your family members will be affected by Gov. Brown’s cap on care, please share your story by emailing karim.olaechea@seiu521.org, or post it on Facebook at our SEIU 521 Home Care page: https://www.facebook.com/seiu521homecare

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