Sen. Tina Smith Joins Minnesotans for Conversation on Need for Home Care Jobs

Polling shows home care investment is overwhelmingly popular, essential to just economic recovery

OAKDALE, MINN — On Wednesday morning, Minnesota essential home care workers, clients and allies hosted a backyard conversation with Sen. Tina Smith to share their experiences and call on elected leaders to support the transformational investment in home- and community-based services in Pres. Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. All stressed the urgent need for Congressional representatives to take action to demand the $400 billion investment in home care jobs remain central to the economic recovery package.

193008470_10158937630311928_8460331156877320500_nSenator Tina Smith listened to the stories of home care workers and clients including Jacquelyn Kelly, who hosted the event at her Oakdale home.

“As the parent of a teen who is quickly coming of age, I, like most parents, am thinking about my child’s future and transition into independence,” said Jacquelyn Kelly, who is a personal care assistant for her 16-year-old son and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “I worry that if I can’t offer a living wage, benefits and a viable long-term career path, caregivers will choose to move into other employment situations that provide more stability and less risk.”

Lauren Thompson, a client-leader with the union who lives with Cerebral Palsy expressed her frustration with the current system, which makes it hard for many people to live independently.

“Broken care systems deprive me of freedom and have made me a lesser person. That’s what years of under-investment and giving PCAs low wages has led to. That’s why the Biden care plan is so important. This is about building systems that value my freedom and humanity and give me control of my life.”

In response to these stories, Senator Tina Smith committed to continuing her work in Congress to increase the quality of life for home care workers and the people they serve.

 “Everyone deserves the opportunity to live happy, fulfilled lives in their own homes, including older adults and people living with disabilities,” said Senator Smith. “For far too long we have underinvested in home-based health care. While the American Rescue Plan provided a much-needed payment boost for these services, we need to continue investing in home and community-based services so people doing this work can earn a livable wage. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will do just that.”

The event was the first of town halls planned in 23 states bringing together care workers and elected officials to galvanize support for a historic investment in the country’s care systems. 

The American Jobs Plan would create more than one million jobs in home care and transform them into living-wage jobs with the opportunity to join a union. The home care workforce is 87% women, 62% people of color and one-third immigrant, making the plan a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in a largely women of color workforce. It would also put women — especially Black, Latina, Asian and immigrant women who perform the bulk of care work — at the center of our nation’s economic recovery and create the foundation of a more diverse, resilient middle class. 

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents nearly 50,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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