Caregiver workforce crisis discussed in latest House Majority Policy hearing
Part of Rep. Hohenstein’s 2023 Disability Summit
Philadelphia, Sept. 14 – People living with disabilities, their caregivers and advocates testified about the current caregiver workforce crisis to members of the House Majority Policy Committee during a hearing Thursday afternoon.
“Personal care attendants are some of the most dedicated, hardworking people you’ll ever find. They provide round-the-clock support for people who need it most, and they often don’t receive the recognition and compensation they deserve,” said Rep. Joe Hohenstein (D-Phila.), who hosted the hearing as part of his 2023 Disability Summit at Temple University.
Members heard testimony from nearly a dozen people, including those who require support from caregivers, caregivers themselves and advocates who work to highlight the needs of both. Many detailed the ongoing crisis within the caregiver workforce, testifying that these direct support professionals aren’t being paid a living wage and aren’t offered quality benefits. Testifiers say those two problems are leading to issues with workforce retention and burnout.
“To accumulate living wages and leisure money, attendants must work for multiple consumers or even have another job. When I speak of accumulating a living wage, I mean having money to pay rent, mortgage, and other living expenses,” said Latoya Maddox, a Senior Independent Living Specialist for Liberty Resources, Inc., who lives with a disability and requires a caregiver. “I hope we create a better system for livable wages and ways to combat retention, so consumers aren’t left without an attendant.”
Personal care attendants, also known as direct support professionals, work directly with and support people with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. They make as little as $10 an hour for a job that can require intense manual labor, focus and dedication. Testifiers called on the lawmakers to enact legislation that would implement a livable minimum wage for personal care attendants.
“We need to pay these vital workers more money and make sure they’re offered excellent benefits. They shouldn’t have to work extra-long hours or multiple jobs just to afford a decent living,” Hohenstein said. “They deserve better from the state of Pennsylvania, and I look forward to taking up this issue in Harrisburg.”
Testimony and photos from Thursday’s hearing will be available at pahouse.com/policy, along with information about other House Majority Policy Committee hearings.