The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2006, 137,140 nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care/home care aides worked in Pennsylvania, earning an average of $10.06 an hour. According to the Self-Sufficiency Standard, in some counties a worker with that salary would not be able to adequately support themselves and in every county through out Pennsylvania they would not be able to adequately support a family of any size. While direct care workers are asked to care for individuals and their families, they are not paid enough to be able to care for their own families.
What can you do?
- Federally, the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 868) offers cash-strapped states a way to increase the pay of one part of the crucial and underpaid direct care workforce. It will help address this workforce crisis by giving states a much-needed option to secure additional federal dollars for the direct support workforce.
- In Pennsylvania, HB 1247 would provide mental retardation services for 20,000 individuals who are currently underserved. However, this bill has no requirement for fair pay for caregivers. In Pennsylvania there are more than 50,000 dedicated, though underpaid, workers in publicly funded but privately operated community providers for the mentally ill and mentally retarded.. Without a pay improvement, this bill will only perpetuate poor pay.
Please contact your federal and local representatives to let them know how crucial direct support professionals are to so many.