Seattle Council votes support for ‘Care’ campaign
By Susie Levy
Seattle made history June 25, becoming the first U.S. city to formally endorse the national Caring Across Generations campaign. More than a hundred supporters packed the City Council chambers to witness the unanimous vote.
Seattle caregiving advocates had launched their supporting campaign in February at a Care Congress at the Greenwood Community Senior Center.
Led by Casa Latina, Washington CAN, Service Employees Local 775 and PSARA, the Seattle Care Council brought the resolution to the offices of every City Council member. To support the campaign, they collected over 3,000 postcards.
Council members Nick Licata and John O’Brien spent a day with SEIU caregivers and their clients to experience first hand the importance and the challenges of caregiving.
When the resolution was heard in committee June 13, Robby Stern of PSARA, Kassandra Gonzalez of Casa Latina, Jeannette Wenzl of Washington CAN and Sylvia Liang of SEIU 775 joined committee members at the table. Moved by the personal stories told by the coalition leaders, Council members shared their own experiences with caregiving.
The resolution notes that as baby boomers age, the need for affordable and accessible home and community-based care will continue to grow. At the same time, many of those providing care will lack the supports they need. The resolution proposes to transform the care industry by:
- Creating two million new, good quality jobs in home care.
- Developing training and career advancement models and a path to legal status for care workers.
- Making home and community-based services accessible and affordable to all who need them, so that our elders and family members with disabilities can stay in their homes and continue to be a part of our communities. Adding a long-term care benefit to Medicare would be an important way to achieve this goal.
The resolution directs the Seattle Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) to promote the campaign with local, regional, state and federal governments, including the National League of Cities. The coalition now has the formal support of Seattle and its lobbyists as the campaign is carried to Olympia and Washington, D.C.
“The active support of our PSARA members helped make his historic achievement possible.” President Robby Stern said. “From signing and circulating postcards to helping pack city hall, our voices have helped move this campaign forward.”
(Susie Levy is an organizer for Washington Community Action Network and a PSARA member.)