For the past six months Executive Director, John Stauffer, has been serving as a contributor to an MSU Grant Focus on Caregivers, an important alliance for Helping Hands Respite Care. Called the IMPART Alliance, the group was formed to provide critical and anecdotal information for a $500,000 MSU Research Grant process targeting “personal care attendants, or PCAs,” in our vernacular – caregivers. The grant came from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund in the category of Special Projects and Emerging Ideas Grants. Written by MSU professor Clare Luz in the Department of Family Medicine, the grant outlines a program called Integrated Model for Personal Assistant Research Training (IMPART).
Focus of MSU Grant About Funding for Training and Service
Major topics being explored through this grant include:
– Creative Ways to Finance PCA Training and Workforce Development
– Exploring Diverse Sources of Funds to Pay for Training and Service for PCAs
Background for this initiative began 6 to 7 years ago with a federal grant that was offered in several states to focus on standardized training for PCAs. The acronym for the program was BTBQ which stood for Better Training, Better Quality. Contrary to most of the participating states in this program, in Michigan the BTBQ training never made it to the implementation phase before the funding ran out.
In Michigan, the reason for the evaporation of funding is because unlike the other participating states, Michigan is a state which does not license many of the care facilities/organizations and as such has no uniform training standards across the state.
In this generation of focus on the training, the IMPART alliance proposes going back to the other states to gather lessons learned from their implementation strategies to inform the research goals going forward in Michigan.
Across the country there is a consensus that there is no way forward in an environment where PCAs being paid at minimum wage creates an effective response for the ever-growing need for Personal Care Attendants. As the Executive Director of a program widely recognized as providing top-shelf training, John Stauffer’s role in the committee is to be a strong voice for the methods of training which are relevant to the target audience and appropriately reflects the reality of training for a new generation of caregivers which includes more and more college-age caregivers.
Legislators Recognize Value of Respite with Action – Consult with IMPART Committee of MSU Grant Focus on Caregivers
The IMPART alliance includes a sub-committee, which John Stauffer also serves on, which is focused on future implementation and needed wage increases across the board. And, currently this sub-committee includes several members who were responsible for input on some new state legislation targeted at immediately raising wages for PCA’s. The conversation began with legislators and lobbyists proposing a $2 an hour wage increase for these care attendants. The proposal was ultimately reduced to $.50 an hour, for budget reasons, and specifically targeted to those providing care for Michigan Community Mental Health (CMH) programs supporting respite care for families with members needing care due to cognitive/physical disabilities.
State Legislation Passed Will Positively Impact Some PCA/Caregivers
The $.50 increase for PCA’s caring for individuals supported by CMH went into effect October 1st. At Helping Hands Respite Care approximately 45% of those we care for draw some funds from CMH. Because Helping Hands Respite Care has a broad mission of caring for individuals from the very young to the oldest, the remainder of our programs may draw funds from Tri-County Office on Aging for our senior programs, the Veteran’s Administration and their benefits for respite care for spouses of those who have been in-service to our nation, and finally families privately paying or using long-term care insurance policies. “The diversity of our service and programs means that there will be some caregivers/PCA’s who will not see an increase in their pay,” commented Stauffer.
Minimum Wage Increase Coming January 2018
“However, there has been preparation for addressing a broader increase across more of our care staff with the coming of a $.35 increase in minimum wage in Michigan beginning January 1st. Current care staff should watch for a letter which outlines how these two increases – the CMH wage increase and the minimum wage increase will be reflected in their paychecks. It should be noted that the language of the CMH wage increase provides the $.50 per hour increase to go both to the direct care agency and the care providers. At Helping Hands Respite Care we prioritize the well-being of the families we serve by making sure that all of the increased funds go directly to caregivers,” concluded Stauffer.