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Texas

Rally Draws Attention to Wage of Home Caregivers in Texas

disability_rally.jpeg
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News
At the Capitol on April 1, 2015, advocates for people with disabilities showed up in force to draw attention to how much home care attendants earn at minimum an hour in Texas.

At the Capitol Wednesday, advocates for people with disabilities showed up in force to draw attention to how much home care attendants earn, which isn't much more than minimum wage.

The chants were hard to ignore at the rotunda. Home care attendants came to ask Texas lawmakers to raise their minimum wage, since in the state, caregivers get a minimum of $7.86 an hour.

At the rotunda, Sarah Watkins, who is in a wheelchair, said she has a tough time keeping a caregiver for long.

"I have to compete with Dairy Queen and Burger King for women who are able to show up every morning and get me out of bed and help me lead the kind of life that I want to lead," says Watkins, whose attendants help her get out of bed, get dressed, make meals and use the bathroom. "I think that’s a very sad commentary on how we treat both people with disabilities and the people that make our lives possible."

Standing outside the Capitol, Cathy Robles Cranston told me she’s 55 years old and earns less than $10 an hour as a home care attendant, a profession she's had for roughly 30 years. She wants to earn more so she can afford to stay in the profession since she says clients become family.

"I saw her grandchildren marry, she saw my child have babies, you know?" she said about one of her clients. 

Last session, the Legislature raised the hourly wage for home care attendants by about 60 cents. Republican State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst from Brenham says the Legislature is trying to do more but has budget constraints.

I think we took a good step. It’s not where everyone wants to go but if we raised it, say, $3 an hour it would be hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars," Sen. Kolkhorst said. "So, pretty tough right now."

This session, both chambers are considering a raise between 11 and 14 cents an hour.

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