The 2019 Washington State Legislative Session concluded after a very important four months for caregivers. Hundreds of SEIU 775 caregivers from across the state traveled to Olympia to meet with their legislators, letting them know what we’re fighting for and why it is important. And it worked!
Here’s what fighting together for caregivers got us this year:
2019-2021 Caregivers Contract with Agency Parity
The legislature fully funded our Caregiver Contract, meaning all IPs will see:
- Immediate raises on July 1, 2019 for all caregivers
- A starting wage of $16.72 per hour by 2021
- A top wage of $20 per hour for the most experienced IPs with advanced training by 2021
- 8% raises between 2019 and 2021 for all state-paid caregivers
- Funding to cover healthcare inflation and keep healthcare affordable for you
- Increased retirement contributions
- Funding for safety programs like Caregiver Kicks, so caregivers can get slip-resistant shoes
- Full funding for CarinaCare.com, the statewide caregiver job-matching app
- New advanced training program for caregivers working with clients with significant behavioral health problems
The contract was bargained with the State by caregivers and approved by caregivers in 2018.
And, because of a law we passed called “parity,” when the legislature funds the home care contract for state-paid IPs, it also increases funding for agencies so they can provide similar wages and benefits. Now that the legislature has funded the state home care contract, we will go to the bargaining table to negotiate raises and benefits for home care workers at private agencies.
The legislature also passed two bills and approved funding for reforming guardianship. Caregivers, parent providers, and self-advocates have been working with legislators for the past two years to help lawmakers better understand how confusing and difficult it is to navigate the guardianship system in Washington. We’re ecstatic to share that change is happening.
- The Alternatives to Guardianship Bill (HB 1329) creates alternative legal pathways other than full guardianship so families can find the best option to fit their unique needs and so that individuals with disabilities can retain as much autonomy as possible.
- The Uniform Guardianship Act (SB 5604) overhauls the entire guardianship process in Washington to be more accountable and user-friendly. Though it will take a few years to implement, it will make many improvements, including: a uniform guardianship process across Washington (rather than different programs in every county, as it is currently), training for lay guardians, a statewide coordinator for families going through the guardian process, and accountability for professional guardians.
You can read an article by the Washington News Service featuring SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders and Parent Provider Shannon Beigert.
Home Care Agency Administrative Rate
The administrative rate for home care agencies increased by $0.05 per hour. This increase will help stabilize funding for agencies and help ensure that agency workers have the administrative support they need to deliver quality care to their clients.
The Long-Term Care Act
The Long-Term Care Trust Act was funded creating a long-term care benefit for all eligible Washingtonians, so people are able to access care when they need it most. This means the people of Washington will no longer be forced to either spend down their entire life savings or forgo getting the care that they need. The benefit equals to approximately one year of in-home care but can be used for many different programs and is paid for through a small payroll premium.
Read two news stories featuring SEIU 775:
- The Nation – Washington State Has Created the Nation’s First Social-Insurance Program for Long-Term Care
- The Intercept – Washington Becomes First State to Approve Publicly Funded Long-Tern Care
Pilot Program to Provide Home Care Services to those in Homeless Shelters
To address the housing and homelessness crisis in Washington, the legislature also provided funding to establish a pilot project to provide home care services to our vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities in homeless shelters.