Over fifteen years ago, the Lord opened another ministry door for me: caregiving. Caregivers (or home care workers) provide the skilled, compassionate care our communities’ seniors and people with disabilities need to live safely and independently at home.
This is righteous work that brings me such joy and fulfilment. But the truth is that home care workers are struggling to make ends meet. We give our whole selves to care for our clients, but low wages, a lack of benefits, and the persistent degradation of this work traps too many caregivers in cycles of poverty. We care for this country, and it’s time our country cared for us.
As a Christian and a minister, the Lord provides for me, but I shouldn’t have to exercise my faith for something that I have already earned. All care workers deserve — and need — a family-sustaining wage, the benefits that allow us to prosper, and the right to join a union in order to unify their voices.
And so my calling goes beyond the people I care for. I’m also fighting on behalf of my fellow home care workers for the respect, protection, and pay we deserve, including the right to unite together in a union and fight for what’s right.
We may all need care at some point in our lives, which means we will always need care workers. But the protections afforded to caregivers are far from what they should be. Unsurprisingly, backbreaking work paired with low pay and few to no benefits has led to a huge shortage of home care workers in the face of a rapidly aging population. Many care workers are fed up and leaving the industry, and it’s hard to blame us. It’s hard to attract good care workers on poverty wages. And too many families are left in a lurch and not getting the home care services they need.
Exploding demand for home care is, on its own, reason enough to invest in this workforce and create new care jobs. But Congress also has an opportunity to right a historical wrong. Care workers, who have long cared for our nation, have been carved out of basic worker protections since the New Deal. When we have the chance to join together in unions, home care workers have a voice to advocate for ourselves, set boundaries and standards, and find stability in our lives — which also enables us to provide the best care for people who need it.
More broadly, an investment in home care workers would signal that our nation’s leaders understand how essential we really are. At the beginning of COVID, care workers and service workers were the ones taking all the risks. But when the support started coming, it didn’t come to us. The first stimulus, which gave essential workers paid sick days, exempted care workers. I was furious. I was so mad I knew I had to speak up. That experience started a fire in me. “We will no longer be exempted,” I said.
For all these reasons, I’ve been speaking out, marching and leading my community in prayer to demand Congress prioritize all home care workers who care for our nation. Investing in good, union, living-wage jobs for home care workers is the right thing to do. But it’s also what this country needs to do. This country needs to get our communities the care they urgently need and get our economy back on track.
The good news is that our efforts have started to pay off. My fellow caregivers have made their voices heard, and now we’re close to winning the investment we’ve been demanding, as part of the Build Back Better framework.
Now, it’s on Congress to deliver.
One of the best ways we can demonstrate our love for the Lord is to do good for others. We must love others as Jesus Christ has loved us. This is the core foundation of caregiving. I’m calling on Congress to take a cue from caregivers — who have kept our nation afloat and cared for its people since our very founding — and pass a historic investment in care. Yes, let’s make the Build Back Better Plan a reality!