An unknown number of home care attendants are currently going without pay that they earned, due to problems created when Gov. Corbett’s administration removed the ability for local non-profit Centers for Independent Living to administer payroll services for home care attendants, and awarded a statewide contract to the Boston-based company Public Partnership Limited (PPL).
A combined effort of attendants and their consumers, people with disabilities who rely on home care, is calling on the Department of Public Welfare, to immediately get involved and work together with consumers and attendants and PPL to solve these payroll problems immediately.
Laura Hayford, an attendant in Erie is one of the many workers who were due for a paycheck on Friday, January 4th and have still not been paid. She provides essential services to her consumer, who is on a feeding tube and unable to speak on his own.
“I can’t quit because if I do, there will be no one to provide care to him and he won’t be able to live independently,” said Hayford. “But if our payroll isn’t corrected immediately, I can lose my home, or have my utilities shut off in the middle of winter. I already had to miss a car payment and am uncertain how I’ll afford prescriptions that I need to stay healthy.”
Many home care attendants and consumers have reported an inability to get answers and clear and feasible directions from PPL about how to complete and send in their payroll paperwork. “The directions I needed weren’t in the packet they sent,” Hayford explained. “There was a phone number. I left four messages over two weeks and they still haven’t called back.”
Sandra Jones, a home care consumer in Williamsport with numerous health problems says that she counts on her attendants for her physical and mental well being and tried calling PPL with her attendants for answers. “You can’t question, they’re not answering the phone. We tried calling the number and no one answered, no one returned the call. I’m trying to stay independent and live at home, and I can’t do that without paid attendants.”
In November, the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, and the Consumer Workforce Council, which represents consumers statewide who support the “consumer as employer” model of service, wrote to Cheryl Martin, a project manager at DPW who was tasked with running this transition. The groups sought a meeting to discuss the transition, especially in light of a situation earlier in the year when thousands of home care attendants did not get paid when their payroll was switched to Christian Financial Services. The meeting still hasn’t taken place, and home care attendants followed up with a letter this week urging an immediate meeting to fix the problems that are keeping attendants from getting paid.
“This is happening because of DPW’s rushed and unprepared transition of payroll services for attendants,” said German Parodi, the President of the Consumer Workforce Council.
Parodi points out how consumers are affected when their attendants go unpaid, “many attendants who live paycheck to paycheck will be economically affected- this will lead to an increase in turnover jeopardizing the lives of many consumers. DPW is responsible for this unneeded change in payroll services which puts me and many other Pennsylvanians at risk of going into a nursing institution if our attendants aren’t paid.”