The Seattle Times | August 21, 2022

“It’s not always the easiest path from ‘I am interested in this work’ to becoming a caregiver and making it through this training process,” said Lynn Kimball, the executive director of Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington. “If someone else is hiring and the wage is comparable, people often look at the closest, easiest path because that is the economic reality for us all.”

But caregivers have a constant bleeding heart, Rice said, even if that means taking a job that pays less than working at a fast-food restaurant. Still, she’s known more than a handful of people who moved to larger towns or cities where the pay is better or jobs are closer.

“I tell people every day, when you are a caregiver you know you are making a difference in somebody’s life. Without you that person wouldn’t have the food they need, they wouldn’t have your friendship or companionship,” she said. “But prepare to live in a battleground where you know you are a making a difference because there aren’t enough caregivers.”

To read the full story with SEIU 775 members Alyssa Evans and Dani Rice, please visit the Seattle Times.

“I’m a long-term care worker in College Place and have cared for multiple clients over the last 18 years. I agree the WA Cares program should be improved by making it possible for folks who live out-of-state to exempt themselves and by allowing people who are near retirement to qualify for partial benefits.

About 70% of us will require long-term care at some point in our lives, including help with eating, bathing, dressing and managing medications. Medicare and private health insurance don’t cover these health needs, and most people can’t afford private long-term care insurance. WA Cares helps pay for that care, ensuring everyone has the option to stay in their home.

When people need long-term care, the last thing they need to worry about is how they will afford it. I oppose repeal of the WA Cares program which will mean tens of thousands of people won’t get the care they need.”

You can read the letter from SEIU 775 member Carolyn Banks in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin here.

“When the State of Washington stepped up and started paying hazard pay of between $2.50 and $3 an hour during the pandemic — by directing federal dollars to those of us on the front lines of health care — it made a huge difference. With these increased wages, I was able to save up enough for a small apartment in a low-income building and move out of my mom’s house. My kids may not have their own rooms, but having a home of our own means the world to us.

The increased pay literally changed my life. And I’m one of many caregivers who feel this way.”

Read more from SEIU 775 member and in-home caregiver Lauren Evans at the Columbian.

“Being a caregiver is not easy … it’s hard work,” said Aurora Castillo Garcia, 28, who took on the care of her mother-in-law as she battled cancer in early 2020. “It’s emotional, it’s physical, but it is also rewarding.”

Garcia, a single mother of two who lives in Moses Lake, Washington, first took on the task of supporting her mother-in-law as an unpaid caregiver. While caring for her, Garcia worked in retail, stocking produce for a large grocer, though she soon saw her hours reduced during the course of the year. She also was a seasonal delivery driver for a produce company. That was until she pursued training in caregiving through the SEIU 775 Benefits Group in early 2021. (SEIU 775 represents 45,000 long-term care workers in Washington and Montana.) Since the training to become a paid caregiver for her mother-in-law, the additional income and benefits she has received have helped to fill in a gap for her family.

The Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult recently conducted a poll on the impact that caregiving has had on workers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The poll of a national sample of 2,200 adults found that 66 percent of Black and Latinx caregivers said that family caregiving responsibilities impacted their ability to work, a level ten percentage points higher than it was for white caregivers.

Accordingly, investments in care infrastructure are particularly important to women of color, who face additional structural disadvantages in accessing quality jobs, including occupational segregation and discrimination.

Garcia now feels like she finally has found a career path and has begun the process to become a full-time certified home care aide to work for an outside agency and care for others in need. “Before, I felt like I didn’t have a skill, but now I have passion about what I do. This is where I belong.”

Read more at The American Prospect.