Fresno County Caregivers and Community Allies Bring Awareness to Lack of Resources for County’s Home Care Program, Urge Board of Supervisors to Prioritize In-Home Supportive Services
Fresno — On Tuesday, caregivers with Fresno County’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program led a community awareness event to shed light on the fact that the county has refused to support a livable wage and benefits to IHSS caregivers in over 9 years. The activists also addressed the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting during public comment calling on them to prioritize the IHSS Program and support the work they do for the county’s seniors and people with disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and autism.
Fresno County IHSS caregivers provide care and support to over 17,000 seniors and people with disabilities by taking them to critical doctor’s appointments, helping administer medication, grooming and bathing, and monitoring oxygen and feeding tubes. Despite the critical care they provide, the county hasn’t approved a wage increase for this workforce in over 9 years.
“We are struggling to make ends meet doing one of the most important jobs in the world,” said Martha Valladares, caregiver from Fresno. “We help people survive in the comfort of their own homes yet the work we do is not treated with dignity and respect by our county officials. We are here today to let them see us and hear us. It’s time to prioritize the IHSS program.”
IHSS caregivers currently make minimum wage and say that as the cost of living is rising in Fresno County, their pay isn’t keeping up. As the senior population is on the rise throughout the state, activists say that if this workforce doesn’t receive livable wages then no one will want to do the job that thousands of people rely on to survive. According to a report by UC Berkeley, the senior population is expected to increase from 5.2 million in 2015 to 9 million by 2030.
“The senior population is on the rise and Fresno County cannot turn its back to this reality,” said Maria Xiquin, Regional Director for SEIU Local 2015. “To keep this workforce alive to meet the demand of in-home care, the county needs to invest in competitive pay and benefits for caregivers. We have to work on solutions that address the growing demand for in-home care.”
Bargaining sessions with the county have been going well so far but activists say they are not going to give up until a contract is won. The next bargaining session will take place July 12, 2019.
Representing over 385,000 nursing home and home care workers throughout California, SEIU Local 2015 is the largest long term care local in the country.