Caregivers can be proud of our historic budget wins and all we accomplished together at this year’s Washington legislative session. Caregivers successfully urged lawmakers to include over $1 billion for long-term care in the 2023-2025 state budget! We raised our voices to pass laws and a budget that help make caregiving a good career and build a better life for us, those we care for, and our communities.
Because of the thousands of emails caregivers sent to lawmakers, the hundreds of caregivers who came to Olympia to talk to lawmakers and to testify, we won:
- Full funding for the Home Care Rate! Caregivers secured $762 million for home care wages and benefits!
- For IPs, this means with our successful bargaining with CDWA, we will soon vote on a tentative agreement that raises IP wages by 10-11%, bringing our starting wage to $21 an hour and making sure the most experienced caregivers with advanced training will earn over $25 an hour by the end of our contract. This funding also adds healthcare coverage for caregivers’ kids, and increases PTO, retirement, and mileage benefits. Watch for your ballot in mail next week!
- For Agency Providers, we will begin bargaining this summer, and because of agency parity, we will hold our employers accountable to raising our wages and benefits!
- Full funding for the Nursing Home Rate! We won $293 million, a 15% rate increase, over the next two years for Medicaid nursing homes. This historic rate increase is the first step to us winning higher wages and improving our benefits. Nursing home workers won this funding and we will hold our employers accountable to make sure these funds give experienced workers the pay increases we deserve and raise starting wages to attract new people to nursing home work.
- New programs addressing the home care workforce shortage.
- HB 1694 addresses Parent Providers’ respite needs, by expanding paid opportunities for family caregivers by expanding the definition of family caregivers for the purposes of training and certification. It also creates a pilot project for spouses to become caregivers when one spouse needs care, and funds a study for paying the parents of medically complex children under 18 years old. The law also exempts former home care aides from renewal fees or late fees and from CE requirements if their certificate expired between 6 months and two years ago and they choose to re-certify.
- SB 5278 reduces barriers to the home care aide certification exam. It will expand testing opportunities and sites for Home Care Aides and streamline the process to sign-up and take the exam. We anticipate it will take time to make these changes, but it is a step in the right direction and will make testing more accessible and available, bringing more caregivers into home care.
- HB 1435 Advancing the Home Care Safety Net Assessment. This policy brings us a step closer to increasing the federal funding available for home care. It directs Department of Health to collect the necessary information from home care agencies to evaluate the feasibility of a home care safety net assessment and to work with stakeholders, including SEIU 775, to bring forward a proposal to the legislature in 2025.
Caregivers also worked in solidarity with community partners to pass legislation that advances economic and racial justice. Our solidarity wins this session include:
- Housing affordability. Won historic funding, over $1 billion dollars, to help people get housing, build more affordable housing, and help people to stay in their homes. Affordable housing wins included:
- $400 million into the Creating the Housing Trust Fund which funds the construction and renovation of affordable housing units.
- $519 million toward housing and the immediate shelter needs of people experiencing homelessness across our state.
- $25 million for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program to increase the number of individuals who can access HEN benefits.
- HB 1120 – Missing middle housing legalizes more housing options in neighborhoods throughout the State, like duplexes and triplexes. This will start to address the major shortage of homes.
- HB 1474 – Creates the Covenant Homeownership Program, to provide financial assistance to Washington residents and their descendants impacted by historical discrimination that prohibited their ability to purchase a home.
- Working Families Tax Credit. Since launching this year, over 150,000 people have applied and over $70 million dollars in the WFTC have been paid to low-income Washingtonians. We strengthened this program by making sure people have 3 years, instead of 1, to claim their credit. Also, People married filing separately, a common filing status for survivors of domestic violence, will be able to claim the WFTC. Learn more about the Working Families Tax Credit here.
- Climate justice. Working alongside climate-focused organizations, we successfully passed bills that support climate resiliency and adaptation for caregivers. This includes HB 1181, which makes sure that our state’s planning for climate resiliency includes vulnerable populations and overburdened communities, like people with lower incomes and elderly people who are more sensitive to air pollution. HB 1329 will prevent utility shutoffs during extreme heat days.