Administration Missteps Cause Confusion for Workers and Californians Who Rely on Home Care Services

Posted on 30 October 2009

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laphonza_butler.jpgLaphonza Butler
SEIU United Long Term Care Workers Union

Following a federal court order halting the implementation of severe cuts to home care for 130,000 Californians, new information presented during a Capitol hearing demonstrates that the Schwarzenegger Administration is unprepared to meet its own Nov. 1 deadline to implement new restrictions on In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program providers. Approximately 450,000 recipients and close to 380,000 providers statewide would be impacted by the restrictions.

“The Administration is causing a lot of confusion,” said Raul Rivera, a home care worker represented by SEIU 521 in Santa Clara County. “It is troubling that with just five days until new job requirements go into effect, the State still has not given us clear information on what these changes mean for our jobs and for the people we serve.”

At least seven California counties have said that the Administration has provided confusing orders and failed to provide funds and materials promised to counties. As a result they cannot meet the Administration’s Nov. 1 deadline to fingerprint providers with live-scan technology, hold orientation sessions and provide employment-related materials for tens of thousands of home care workers.

“Sadly, it is the elderly and disabled who rely on this critical personal care service who ultimately pay for the Administration’s inability to provide clear, consistent instructions, and adequate time to implement the changes,” said Frank Mecca, Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California. “The Schwarzenegger Administration has put county agencies in an impossible situation, demanding that we implement sweeping changes in our local In-Home Supportive Services programs but not following through with the support and direction we need to implement their orders.”

In letters to the California Department of Social Services, county governments outlined an array of specific concerns and obstacles that prevent them from implementing the changes ordered by the Schwarzenegger Administration, including:

• The short timeline the Administration gave counties to implement new live-scan fingerprint technology is impossible to meet because for each county, the California Department of Justice takes weeks to approve such a program. The current backlog for getting the go-ahead to start such a program may be six to eight weeks for each county.
• The Administration has not delivered cash-strapped counties the promised state funding to offset the costs for the costly fingerprint program.
• Just five days before new employment requirements go into effect, the Administration has failed to provide counties with information and materials for state-required employee orientation sessions.

Wednesday’s hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee comes just a week after federal Judge Claudia Wilken, in response to a lawsuit filed by home care providers, seniors, and people with disabilities, issued a preliminary injunction that halted cuts to critical home care services for 130,000 low-income Californians who rely on IHSS to remain safely at home. The judge’s order prevents the State from moving forward with cuts to the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program until the court hears the class action lawsuit that was filed on October 1.

SEIU ULTCW is the largest union of long-term care workers in California, and the second largest local in the nation, representing 190,000 homecare workers in California. As 190,000 homecare workers and nursing home workers united throughout the state, SEIU ULTCW is committed to working together to improve the lives of seniors, people with disabilities and long-term care workers who provide quality care.