Happy Care Workers Recognition month! The Georgia chapter has been working hard to make sure that care workers get better pay through Georgia Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) programs. We wanted to share with you their journey that led a budget to the Governor’s desk and ask you to help us push him to sign that budget!

GCDD Advocacy Day + House Budget Hearing 

In February, the GA chapter joined the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities on their Waiver and Wages advocacy day. With We Dream in Black chapter members working alongside our partners, we raised the need for increased funding to ensure Direct Support Professionals who support disabled Georgians can make a living wage, and that Georgia can make meaningful strides to eliminate the 7,000+ individuals on the New Options and Comprehensive Supports Waiver Programs (NOW/COMP) waiting list. Workers, care recipients, families, and supporters delivered a strong message to legislators on the urgent need for investment in our care system and the importance of this funding. 

Currently, direct support professionals (DSP) who serve Georgia’s Medicaid NOW/COMP recipients earn as little as $10/hour. Personal Care Attendants who support our elder Georgians through the Independent Care and Elderly and Disabled Waiver Programs (ICWP/EDWP) earn as little as $11.22/ hour. The 7,000+ Georgians waiting to access NOW/COMP services underscores the crisis in care actively unfolding in our state, and the urgency for collective action.

In a hearing held by the House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee on February 13, 2024, Georgia Civic Engagement Director Abril Castro testified on behalf of NDWA. In her remarks, Castro urged the General Assembly to raise wages for direct support professionals in Georgia to at least $16.70/hr- a measure that would alleviate staffing shortages and ensure adequate care for waiver recipients. Catch her testimony here. 


March HCBS Press conference and Letter to Governor Kemp 

After crossover day, the GA House kept the governor’s funding for HCBS programs intact. We organized a press conference to acknowledge the historic funding  that the governor included in his budget, and to continue to push for additional slots for the NOW/COMP waiver programs, along with a guarantee that the funding be used to raise worker wages. 

Thank you to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council (AFL-CIO), New Disabled South, and members of the Georgia House of Representatives, for standing with care workers!

After the press conference, our members hand delivered a letter to Governor Kemp thanking him for his support for HCBS as a first step to addressing this care crisis. 

What’s next? 

Now, it’s up to the governor to sign the budget and ensure his proposed funding for HCBS makes it to the finish line. We are so close! Take action and let Governor Kemp know how critical these investments are and that they must remain in the budget. 

Our work extends beyond the session and we will be organizing to make sure workers reap the benefit of these wins. We must grow our base of direct care workers even greater, educate the broader public about these investments, and fight to set a high wage floor for all direct care workers in Georgia. 

Behind every statistic are real people — families with loved ones with disabilities are unable to access vital services, and home care workers are struggling to make ends meet. The time to act is now. Investing in HCBS and fair wages is not just an economic issue but a moral imperative that affects the well-being of our community.