We are proud to announce the launch of the CREATIVE CARE COUNCIL! LEARN MORE
For Immediate Release
March 2, 2023
Contact: Yonah Lieberman, email@example.com
PHOTOS: Click here for high-res photos, credit Sardarius Head.
ATLANTA—More than 50 care workers, caregivers, disabled people and older adults gathered at the Capitol to raise the alarm around the continuing care crisis in the state and introduce a new coalition, Care Can’t Wait Georgia, to state elected leaders. The coalition called on General Assembly members to increase funding for childcare and aging and disability care; raise in-home direct care worker wages; and pass legislation to ban workplace harassment.
“The care crisis in Georgia is more pressing than ever before,” said Representative El-Mahdi Holly, D-Stockbridge, “This moment demands action, not just words. That is why I am appreciative of the formation of the Care Can’t Wait Georgia coalition and look forward to working with them to move forward policies that will ensure that all Georgian families have access to affordable care.”
Days before the coalition met with General Assembly members, President Biden railed against potential cuts to Medicaid that would cause 70 million Americans across the country—namely older adults, disabled people and children—to lose access to critical care and the ability to stay in their homes, increasing years-long waiting lists and continuing the trend of low-paid direct care jobs leading to even worse workforce shortages. More than 7,000 Georgians alone are on Medicaid waitlists for home-based care because the program has been underfunded for decades and direct care workers are paid a median wage of less than $13/hour with little to no benefits or protections. Georgians who earn sick time can use that time to care for their loved ones right now, but that benefit is set to sunset on July 1, 2023.
“This coalition is a turning point in the politics of care in Georgia,” said Maria del “Rosario” Palacios, a senior organizer with Caring Across Generations from Buford, “The unity among the aging, disability, family caregiver, and worker advocacy communities is historic. We want the same thing—for all Georgians to have access to quality care that is affordable at every stage of life. Our voices together are more powerful than each of us on our own.”
The coalition called on elected leaders to increase funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) in the FY 2024 budget by $10 million to address the Medicaid waitlist.
“My family would not be able to make it all work without the extra support we get from HCBS,” said Victoria Helmly, a Caring Across Generations member from Marietta whose father has Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s dementia. “But we’re the lucky ones—it is a shame that more than 7,000 Georgians are on waitlists simply because our state refuses to invest in its people.”
Millions of family caregivers in Georgia are providing compassionate care to people who are aging, ill, or disabled,” added Cam Cote of the Rosalynn Carter Institute. “Beyond serving as the invisible frontline of our healthcare system, family caregivers also make up a sizable portion of the American workforce. It is imperative that the legislature act to provide caregivers with the support and resources they so desperately need and deserve.”
Coalition advocates also demanded General Assembly members increase wages of all Medicaid direct care workers—who provide critical services and supports for disabled people and older adults in home and community-based settings—to $18.86 an hour in the FY 2024 budget.
“When I got COVID and had to stay home to protect those I care for, there was no money to support me or my family,” said Reverend Harriet Bradley, a direct care worker and member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, “We need the state to release federal funds to pay us what we deserve — and to attract more workers with better wages and better benefits.”
The Care Can’t Wait Georgia Coalition is also advocating for the permanent passage of the Family Care Act (SB 61), ensuring that the Georgians can continue to use their earned sick time to care for their loved ones.
“Paid leave is a win-win for both Georgia businesses and working families,” said Mica Whitfield, Georgia state director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, which also leads the Georgia Coalition for Paid Leave. “In Georgia alone, around 878,000 people do not have access to family care days. Nationally, 23% of caregivers have faced the threat of unemployment for caring for their family. SB61 would make the Family Care Act permanent law and would ensure that families would not have to choose between working and caring for their loved ones. This is an important step towards achieving comprehensive paid leave for all working Georgians.”
Advocates also were calling on the General Assembly to increase funding for Georgia’s Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) Program by $20 million in the 2024 budget, which would support working families in need of child care and support childcare providers, who are largely small businesses.
“It’s not easy having kids and then trying to get a job; we need more affordable child care options for job interviews and for work,” said Dorian Robinson, member of Family Friendly GA, who has two young children and lives in Riverdale.
Finally, the coalition was asking for a swift passage of the Georgia Safe Workplaces Act (HB 381), so that all workers in Georgia are protected by state law from workplace discrimination and harassment, no matter the size of workplace or industry.
“Right now Georgia is one of three states that does not have a state law protecting private sector workers against discrimination or harassment at work,” said Allison Glass, Policy and Training Manager of 9to5 Georgia. “That’s why we are leading the advocacy in support of HB 381, which would give workers the protections they need on the job and provide definitions that work for our state instead of only relying on federal law. For Georgia to remain the #1 place to do business, we must focus on providing employees with the support and protections they need to thrive in the workplace.”
Caring Across Generations is a national organization of family caregivers, care workers, disabled people, and aging adults working to transform the way we care in this country so that care is accessible, affordable and equitable— and our systems of care enable everyone to live and age with dignity. To achieve our vision, we transform cultural norms and narratives about aging, disability and care; win federal and state-level policies; and build power amongst the people touched by care. For more information, visit caringacross.org.
Care Can’t Wait Georgia is a coalition of aging, disability, family caregiver, and worker advocates uniting to create a Georgia where all Georgians have access to quality care that is accessible and affordable at every stage of life. We advocate to build a care infrastructure for Georgia where disabled people and older adults have the resources needed to access care in the way they choose, family caregivers have the support they need, and direct care workers are paid family sustaining wages and benefits with career advancement opportunities.
Our members include 9to5 Georgia, Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council, Brain Injury Association of Georgia, Care in Action, Caring Across Generations, Georgia Head Start Association, Georgia Stand-Up, National Domestic Workers Alliance Georgia Chapter, New Georgia Project, Rosalyn Carter Institute, Sibling Transformation Project, SEIU, Statewide Independent Living Council, Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse, and The Arc Georgia.