“P-Valley” Star Brandee Evans Urges Georgia Legislators to Invest in Care Workers

Elected Leaders Pressed Nearly 100 Caregivers and Advocates to Vote, Demand More Care Support

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ATLANTA (Oct. 3, 2022)—Actress and “P-Valley” star Brandee Evans met this weekend with Georgia representatives Kim Schofield, Park Cannon and William Boddie and urged them to improve services and support for caregivers like herself.

Evans, the primary caregiver for her mother who has multiple sclerosis and early onset Alzheimer’s, and the elected officials joined nearly 100 caregivers and leading care advocates for a roundtable discussion about the biggest challenges that people face accessing care for themselves and their loved ones in Georgia.

“It broke my heart when I brought my mother from California to Georgia and we lost all of the care benefits she had,” said Evans, who fought to continue providing in-person care for her mother while shooting the series in Georgia. “I was initially excited because Georgia is the south; it’s home. But I couldn’t find care. Caregivers were quitting because the pay wasn’t enough. There were times I had to watch my mother on a screen while filming. Eventually I had to take her back to California and fly back and forth during filming.”

Evans is just one of more than 1.2 million unpaid family caregivers who juggle care responsibilities with their careers, and who have struggled to navigate a convoluted process to access Medicaid long-term care services and find consistent and high-quality care. The groundbreaking roundtable brought together caregivers, sandwich generation parents and advocates for paid leave, child care, disability justice and long-term care.

Rep. Schofield also shared her personal connection to care. “Paid leave is important for me because I’m a person who has lived with lupus for 22 years,” she said. “I almost lost my job because I couldn’t take paid leave, and my daughter couldn’t take paid leave to help me out when I needed to go to doctor’s appointments.”

The pandemic has only exacerbated long standing obstacles to getting care. The historic devaluation of care work—rooted in slavery—and overreliance on unpaid family caregivers has led to the chronic shortage of trained direct care workers.

“After the hump of the pandemic passed, care workers didn’t come back to the workforce because of pay and treatment,” said Shelly Simmons, executive director of the Statewide Independent Living Council. “Over 7,000 people are on a waiting list to be transitioned out of nursing facilities, but that can’t happen unless we have affordable housing and caregiving.”

Despite acute and growing care needs, Georgia has not invested in the family caregivers, paid care workforce or services that allow children, aging adults and disabled people to live in their communities and age in place. Elected leaders spotlighted new and existing policies that could transform the way people get care.

“If we expanded Medicaid, we could cover 500,000 more citizens in the state who need healthcare and ensure 64,000 living wage jobs,” said Rep. Boddie. “We also need to raise our state minimum wage; Georgia is tied with Wyoming for having the lowest minimum wage in the nation: $5.15 per hour.”

With the Nov. 7 election drawing near, the elected officials emphatically underscored the importance of first voting in candidates with shared values.

“This January, 53 new members are coming into the chamber and we need to educate them about all the aspects of care,” said Rep. Cannon. “We need you to continue connecting with your representatives across the state because care can’t wait.”

With more than 53 million unpaid family caregivers across the country, care is an issue that “connects us all,” added Caring Across Generations Director Ai-jen Poo. “That means we are the largest force for change in the entire country. We’re going to vote and then we’re going to organize, advocate, demand accountability—and then we’re going to write a new recipe for caregiving in Georgia. We will be unstoppable.”

The roundtable was convened by the Care Can’t Wait–Georgia Coalition, which includes 9to5 Georgia, Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council, Brain Injury Association of Georgia, Care in Action, Georgia, Caring Across Generations, Family Values at Work, Georgia Head Start Association, Georgia Stand-Up, New Georgia Project, Protect the Vote GA, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, Statewide Independent Living Council, Sibling Transformation Project, We Dream in Black, The Arc Georgia, We Vote We Win and Women Engaged.