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A recent article in CTNewsJunkie highlighted the struggles of Allied Community Resources to support the people who care for those in need of help. Home care workers and personal care attendants experienced frequent and ongoing delays in receiving payment for their work.

The situation has grown so serious that the union representing workers paid through Allied has asked that the Department of Social Services not renew the company’s contract with the state.

According to the union, three-quarters of the personal care assistants handled through Allied reported having a problem with the company in the last month. The repeated inability to make payroll on a timely basis is especially worrisome in an industry with so many employees who live paycheck to paycheck.

It’s easy to blame Allied for its failure, but we might learn more by considering the complexity of its task. Many caregivers work irregular hours, even coming in and out of the workforce, and often serving a changing roster of clients. It takes an understanding of the demands of the industry to effectively administer delivery of a service as complex and essential as home care.

That is why it is critical to maintain a healthy sector of private home care agencies that have a deep history of providing this important service successfully here in Connecticut. Hundreds of home care companies reliably meet the payroll obligations that overwhelm the state-contracted non-profit—and their service goes far beyond that.

Private sector agency home care begins with a comprehensive background check of all employees, including an in-person interview. The agencies also individually assess the needs of every client, then make the most appropriate match—based on skills and personality, as well as availability and location—of caregiver to client. Agency oversight is ongoing, with regular assessment of the quality of the relationship, and the wisdom to make a change when it’s best for the client.

Additionally, private sector agencies provide initial and on-going training of employees; many also provide transportation for workers to clients’ homes. Private agencies have the resources to assign a substitute on short notice if a regular caregiver can’t make it; likewise, they can find new clients for gifted caregivers who want more work or have lost a regular client. Caregivers who work through an agency can count on unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance, proper tax withholding, health insurance, and in many cases retirement programs and educational opportunities.

Home care is one of the fastest growing industries in America, and the need for the service has never been greater. Allowing people to age in place in their own homes instead of an institution has been particularly important for the safety of our seniors during this pandemic. The hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings to the state enabled by a reduced nursing home population is also critical to a balanced state budget.

Policy makers would be well-advised to rely on stable private sector agency home care, instead of expanding a struggling state-funded bureaucracy. The agency model has proven its value for both caregivers and clients—that’s why it’s the most popular choice in Connecticut. As a new legislative session begins, we urge lawmakers to carefully weigh the impact of the policies they consider on this vital industry.

Mark McGoldrick chairs the Connecticut chapter of the Home Care Association of America. He owns six Comfort Keepers Offices across the State of Connecticut, covering Fairfield, Hartford, and New Haven counties.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.