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REPORTS: Opportunities for Immigrant Women in Home Care Must Be Improved

March 14, 2013

The job quality of foreign-born, female home care workers needs to be improved in order to build a workforce capable of providing quality care for elders and people with disabilities, according to two reports from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

In “Improving Career Opportunities for Immigrant Women In-Home Care Workers,” Jane Henrici, Ph.D., notes that home care workers who are immigrant women face many specific challenges on the job, including a heightened risk of abuse, the presence of language barriers, and problems related to their citizenship status.

The report discusses the need to increase access to high-quality training that specifically targets the needs of foreign-born workers, and highlights numerous existing training programs and career pathways that have proven effective.

Among the programs cited by Henrici are the Extended Care Career Ladder Initiative (ECCLI) in Massachusetts and Express Care, which trains low-income immigrants in northern Virginia to become home health or personal care aides.

Upcoming Webinar

CAG and the IWPR will host a webinar on the “Improving Career Opportunities” report on April 9 at noon EST. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

The other report, entitled “Increasing Pathways to Legal Status for Immigrant In-Home Care Workers,” outlines the restrictions faced by undocumented immigrant home care workers in both their professional and personal lives.

The authors, Henrici and Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., present several ways the U.S. visa system could be overhauled in order to establish more pathways for citizenship for foreign-born home care workers.

As the baby-boomer generation continues to enter retirement age, the demand for home care will increase commensurately, the authors note.

“By 2020, we need an additional 1.6 million direct-care workers,” PHI Director of Communications Karen Kahn told Healthcare Finance News, which covered the reports on March 12. “There are not sufficient numbers of women entering the workforce to fill these jobs.”

The U.S. will need to expand the labor pool of potential home care workers in order to meet demand; providing easier pathways to citizenship for immigrant workers is a good way to do just that, the authors write.

Both reports were produced in conjunction with Caring Across Generations (CAG).

— by Matthew Ozga

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