Statement by UDW Executive Director Doug Moore in response to the 2016-17 California state budget:
Today we celebrate another hard-won victory for California home care providers and recipients. The state budget, signed into law by Governor Brown yesterday, is a testament to the work of the UDW caregivers who have advocated for years to protect the home care program in California. These providers have worked tirelessly to demand dignity for their profession, and respect for the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on their care.
The budget fully funds the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program for the next three years, which means IHSS clients will receive all of the necessary hours of care that have been assessed by social workers. Last year, these hours were restored for a one-year period after being cut for the previous four years.
While UDW is thankful to our elected leaders for taking action in this budget, our work is not done.
We will remain diligent in our work to restore IHSS hours permanently, because Californians who rely on care need more than a temporary fix. In-home care allows some of our most vulnerable neighbors and loved ones to remain healthy and safe in their homes. A permanent end to IHSS cuts is necessary to ensure people who need home care services no longer live in fear that their care will be cut or taken away from them.
United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a homecare union made up of nearly 94,000 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
Update: On June 27, 2016, Governor Brown signed the state budget into law. The restoration of the 7% cut to IHSS recipients’ hours of care has been extended three more years, and SSI/SSP grants will receive a one-time 2.76% increase effective January 1, 2017. Click here to read more.
Yesterday, the state legislature passed the 2016-17 budget, which fully funds IHSS, and also increases SSI/SSP, a state and federally funded program on which many home care recipients rely. Our victories are a direct result of UDW members’ fight to protect home care for seniors and people with disabilities.
What’s in the budget?
A major priority for all UDW caregivers is protecting the IHSS program, because it is vital to the independence, safety, and health of our clients and loved ones.
Last year, we successfully ended a 7% cut to IHSS hours. But that was not enough.
In 2016, UDW caregivers from around the state headed to the Capitol on multiple occasions to demand the restoration of our clients’ hours of care beyond just one year.
Our leaders heard us. The legislature allocated money in the budget to fully fund IHSS for the next three years. This means our home care clients will continue to receive all of the hours they have been assessed.
“This is huge not only for me as a provider, but for my clients as well,” said Christine Petraeus, an IHSS provider from San Luis Obispo County. “I have a 95-year-old client who broke her hip a couple of months ago. With her increased limitations, she can’t afford to lose any of her IHSS hours.”
Also in the budget: more money for seniors and people with disabilities who live on the fixed income they receive from SSI/SSP grants. As many as 1.5 million of these Californians have suffered because of cuts to their grants enacted six years ago, and struggle to pay their rent or purchase basic necessities like food and toiletries.
In the budget passed by the legislature, SSI/SSP grants will receive a one-time 2.76% increase effective January 1, 2017.
The budget now heads to Governor Brown’s desk where it must be signed by June 30th.
UDW caregivers will continue to push for policies and funding that puts the dignity of home care providers and recipients first.
Rather than remaining content with a one-time increase, we support Assembly Bill 1584, which reinstates SSI/SSP cost-of-living adjustments and raises grant amounts to 100% of the 2017 federal poverty level. These changes go much further to lift seniors and people with disabilities out of poverty.
We also believe that overtime pay should be a great benefit for all providers, and should not negatively impact any clients and providers. That’s why UDW has been advocating for four fixes to overtime implementation.
Unfortunately, the legislature did not take action on these items, but UDW will continue to urge the governor’s administration to enact the four fixes, which include protecting providers from inaccurate violations and ensuring that all providers and clients have access to exemptions if they need them.
In California, nearly 1.5 million older adults and people with disabilities struggle day after day, month after month to get by. Too many of our IHSS clients live without enough money to pay for basic necessities like housing, food, and their prescriptions. They are forced to live in poverty because of cuts made in 2009 to their Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (also known as SSI/SSP) grants in order to lessen the effects of the recession. Now, the state is doing better, but without an increase to their SSI/SSP payment amounts, the most vulnerable people in our communities are actually doing worse.
Together with community partners, UDW caregivers are asking our state legislators and the governor to do the right thing:
UDW caregivers like Susana Saldana from Merced have been active in urging lawmakers to do what’s right. In April, she testified at the Capitol before a Senate Budget Subcommittee, and urged them to: “Increase SSI/SSP grants to help lift California’s seniors & people with disabilities out of poverty!”
But now, with the state’s budget process winding down this month, we urgently need the help of all UDW caregivers. Click here to sign the petition. Tell lawmakers to take action and improve SSI/SSP for our clients and loved ones.