I never thought I’d be a home care worker for my own child but my life took a tragic turn many years ago.
I was out walking one day while pregnant with my son when I decided to take a rest at a bus stop. While waiting, a woman approached me and demanded that I give her my purse. As I reached out to give her my money she pulled out a wrench and started striking me on my head and stomach. I was left bleeding, bruised and unsure if my baby was still alive.
I was rushed to the hospital where doctors monitored me and my baby.At that time, doctors thought my son would be fine and would live a healthy, independent life. But they were wrong. He was born with severe disabilities, including: epilepsy, autism, and now – as an adult – he has been diagnosed with early parkinson’s disease. My son’s future was taken from him before he was even born — he’ll never have a prom, a girlfriend, or a regular life.
When I heard of the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) – I was at the end of my rope. Taking care of my son had meant that I could not work – I had given up my job as a medical secretary – cashed out my 401K savings, and my unemployment had dried up. When I learned about this program and what it stands for, I realized that not all hope was lost. That my son had a chance to keep on living because if anything were to happen to me, he would have a program in place that would allow someone to come in and take care of him instead of being institutionalized.
The IHSS program has allowed my son to have some sense of dignity and self-worth. And it has given me peace of mind because although I am his mother, I need an income to be there for my son.
Homecare workers need to be respected as employees. The Sacramento Board of Supervisors needs to raise wages for IHSS providers; and extend dignity to those who provide dignity and independence for so many. Life can take unexpected and often tragic turns, and we must protect and strengthen the IHSS program and our caregivers – for you never know when you or your loved ones will need top-quality care.