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Missouri Home Care Union launches petition to improve wages - KOAM TV 7

Missouri Home Care Union launches petition to improve wages

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Disabled individuals can receive care in the comfort of their own homes thanks to home care attendants. But because of low wages, many of those attendants struggle to make ends meet. The Missouri Home Care Union is launching a petition to change that.

For Kia Adkins, the work day never really ends. She is a home care attendant for 5 different clients, including her mother in law who has breathing problems and needs constant care. So even when she isn't technically on the clock, Adkins is doing her job.

“I’m here from 5 o’clock at night to 8 o’clock in the morning with her. She has me all that time. But I still only get 2 hours and 15 minutes a day,” says Adkins.

Adkins makes $8 an hour and struggles to make ends meet at home. She is just one of 8,000 home care attendants in Missouri’s consumer directed services program. The state pays vendors over $15 for every hour of service provided but the attendants only receive about half.

“It’s the taxpayers money that goes to Medicaid who pays $15.48 for the care, then why is somebody who’s not doing the care get paid more than the caregiver them self," says Jan Fairchild of the Missouri Home Care Union.

Of the 400 agencies in the state, only a few are abiding by the contract that would put the power back in the consumers hand to determine how much they would like to pay their attendants. That contract has been on the governor's desk since January and now, the union is fighting back.

“The petition is so we can get onto the ballot of November of 16 in which we go to the taxpayers and say can 85% of that $15.48 go to the attendants who actually are doing the work,” continues Fairchild.

And although it’s hard, Adkins says her job is important.

“There’s times when I’m the only person that person will see that day. We're a friend, we're a provider, we're a helper, we're an ear, we're a shoulder," Adkins says.

Any registered voter in Missouri can sign the petition. The union will be gathering signatures in the coming months.

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