Paris: Suggestions on IHSS proposal


The In-Home Supportive Services program is one California can be proud of. It allows the disabled (from mild to severe) choose caretakers to provide helping services in their own homes. The choice of caretaker is the client’s alone, and not many conditions are imposed on the caretaker – meaning this can be a person with no training or someone with criminal offenses in their past.

The proposed raise for IHSS workers is causing controversy because it will only be given to those who qualify “to be registered.” Caretakers (providers) can currently work for any recipient or multiple recipients who requests them. Under the proposal, those who pass a drug test and background check would additionally qualify for a registry (labor pool), where people looking for caretakers could find help. These professionals would receive a higher wage than those who aren’t registered. This is similar to a normal promotion resulting in a higher grade of pay. So what is wrong with that? And how is that different from any professional registry or licensing board (like nurses or doctors)?

Drug testing is probably fair criteria in the caretaking environment, because drugs are often readily available. However, I would take away the requirement that the person not have a criminal background. Past behavior should not prevent caretakers from earning as much as their peers or joining the registry (although the registry would certainly have to notify potential clients of criminal backgrounds).

In its place, I would require a minimum competency test. If competency was a condition for extra wages, it would be more understandable that those who see caretaking as a profession would have the right to earn more than those who do not want to prove their qualifications.



Janis Paris lives in Clearlake Oaks.