Of course one of our most valuable member benefits are our free advocacy councils. Last year we helped UDW member Vera Galinha of Merced County win protective supervision for her client – an increase in 175 hours a month and back pay.

Dear fellow IHSS providers,

Together UDW caregivers negotiate better wages and benefits for our work, while also protecting our clients and loved ones by advocating for seniors and people with disabilities and improving the IHSS program. But there’s one more perk to being a member of UDW: our member benefits and discounts.

Did you know that if you took advantage of every UDW member benefit, your family could save over $2,400 this year?

Our low-cost dental plan can save caregivers up to $194.50 over more expensive dental coverage. The WellCard Health Discount Card can save a family of three on average $1,000 annually. A free accidental death and dismemberment policy through American Income Life will save you another $96, and our 15% AT&T discount can save you an average of $72 on your phone bill each year.

Free caregiving trainings like CPR and First Aid save us money while teaching us the tools we need to give our clients the quality care they deserve. Not to mention the new free AFSCME college benefit, and so much more.

Start taking advantage of your member benefits today! Visit www.udwa.org/memberbenefits or call 1-800-621-5016 for more information.

In solidarity,
Editha Adams, caregiver and UDW President

vera galinha
My name is Vera Galinha, and I’m an IHSS homecare provider for my partner in Los Banos, CA. I’ve been with my partner since I was 17, and we have three beautiful children together. About nine years ago he began to show signs of paranoid schizophrenia, and once he was diagnosed, I transitioned into the role of homecare provider.

It has taken years to adjust to his condition, and I learn more every day. I gave up my work in the medical and dental insurance field to become his full-time caregiver. And I know that homecare is the answer for my partner and many others like him: if he were put into a facility or institution, he would give up. He needs his family around him in an environment he knows and trusts.

For a long time, my partner was only approved for 20 IHSS hours each month. It was getting difficult to pay bills and keep our household running, so I considered getting another job to make ends meet. But it seemed impossible for me to leave the house for another job when I knew my partner would be home—if I’m not around, who would care for him and make sure he is safe?

In June 2015, I went to a UDW Advocacy Council meeting. Each UDW county has an Advocacy Council, and their help is one of our many UDW Member Benefits. At the meeting I spoke to fellow homecare providers, and UDW staff who educated me about the IHSS program. Part of my responsibilities as my partner’s homecare provider is to make sure he is not a danger to himself or others. In the IHSS world this is called “protective supervision,” and it is a full-time job. It turns out my partner should have had it all along!

It wasn’t easy, but the Advocacy Council helped me file an appeal on a Notice of Action we received. A fellow UDW homecare provider even came to my home during the social worker’s reassessment to witness it, and make sure everything ran smoothly. As a result, my partner’s IHSS hours were increased from 20 to 76 each month.

This was a huge win for us, but it still wasn’t representative of the amount of care my partner actually needs.

So I filed a second appeal with the help of the Advocacy Council. My fellow providers made sure I had all the documentation I needed, and gave me advice on what to expect. During a phone meeting with a representative from Merced County, I made my case, and we went over a document from my partner’s psychologist detailing the severity of his condition. The representative agreed with me, and noted that my partner was in need of a high level of care.

Just a few days later, I received a call saying that my partner’s social worker granted him protective supervision, which gave him an additional 195 hours per month plus the 76 we’d already secured! And I was granted retroactive pay back to August.

For me, this was not an easy process. Going through it, I often felt like I was asking for something my partner and I didn’t deserve. But we do! I am my client’s homecare provider, after all, and I deserve to be compensated for the quality care I provide him every day.

I am so grateful the UDW Advocacy Council was there for us every step of the way. To my fellow homecare providers going through a similar situation, I’ll say this: contact our union, and go to an Advocacy Council meeting. You are not alone. We are all working to protect our clients and loved ones, and keep them healthy and safe, and we are stronger together.