The Direct Care Alliance, an important voice advocating for direct care workers throughout the country, announced that they have closed their doors due to a reduction in funding effective yesterday, June 30.
I responded to this announcement with a personal sense of loss as I had the privilege of getting acquainted with several people associated with DCA including their former Executive Director, Leonila Vega, who worked diligently on behalf of caregivers until the end of her life from cancer nearly 2 years ago. During one of my visits to New York I met with Leonila at the DCA office and learned about her passion and her vision.
The DCA office reminded me a lot of internships I did during grad school. It was located in an office building in mid-town Manhattan which, contrary to the address, was crammed full of small non-profit organizations operating off card tables and folding chairs. After climbing darkened stairs and winding down narrow hallways, I believe Leonila and I sat in the “reception area” of the office in a couple of folding chairs, discussing the training and credentialing needs so clearly obvious to advancing the professional status of direct care workers.
Over the years, I talked with members of the board and worked directly with other affiliated state groups. Throughout my experience with the Direct Care Alliance team it was clear that this was a project based on passion rather than dollars, a perspective that probably resulted in their demise.
Our team here at IPCed developed a Personal Care Aide Certification course to prepare individuals to take the DCA credentialing exam, working closely with the DCA team. Our course offered an online option to people who wanted to become credentialed, but didn’t have the time or have access to an in-person course. We continue to offer this course online, helping both professional and family caregivers prepare for this important work.
As we face an aging population in the U.S., we, as a nation, will need to realistically determine how we will manage the increased need for well-trained, highly skilled direct care workers.
How will be compensate them fairly and appropriately?
What standards will we set as a minimum for individuals caring for our nation’s most vulnerable?
How will we reward individuals who often lead with their heart (as we want them to when caring for our loved ones) rather than with an eye toward career and monetary advancement?
These are important questions to answer on a large, national scale.
In the meantime, we’ll continue our work reaching as many individuals and organizations as possible, advancing the goal of affordable, accessible training for everyone who works in the care field – giving each one of them the tools to be the very best caregivers they can be.