NCOA Brief Calls for Immigration Reform to Address Direct-Care Workforce Shortage
A National Council on Aging (NCOA) brief on immigration reform released on April 7 recommends immigration reform as a means to help stabilize and strengthen the direct-care workforce.
The brief, Immigration Reform: Key Issues for People with Disabilities and Older Adults, highlights the increasing demand for direct-care workers and reports that a “severe shortage of future workers is projected.”
Immigration reform “is part of the solution to addressing this projected shortfall of workers,” argues NCOA Director of Long-Term Services and Supports Joe Caldwell, who wrote the brief.
About 26 percent of the direct-care workforce is foreign-born and a portion is “unauthorized,” Caldwell writes.
THE NCOA brief recommends providing a pathway to citizenship for direct-care workers to:
- help stabilize the workforce
- ensure protections for workers, and
- improve the quality of services and supports.
According to the brief, legal status would allow, for example:
- improved background checks of workers
- ability of workers to drive legally
- opportunities for training and career advancement, and
- development of registries to assist individuals in locating workers.
Additionally, a Senate immigration reform bill passed in 2013 (S.744) would establish a new “W” nonimmigrant visa for low-skilled workers. This visa would permit a “modest” number of individuals to enter the U.S. for a limited period to work for registered employers in occupations with labor shortages, such as direct care. Such a step would help to address the direct-care workforce shortage, according to the brief.
— by Deane Beebe