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Introduction

The following report provides a detailed analysis of how our nation fails to pay our critical direct-care staff “self-sufficient” wages and benefits. The report particularly examines 1999 national and state median hourly wage and employment estimates for the three major categories of paraprofessional (direct-care) aide workers included in the US Bureau of Labor’s occupational employment categories.vi

The report also compares the direct-care wages and benefits to a “self-sufficiency standard” that measures how much income is needed for a family to meet its basic needs—without public or private assistance. This standard was developed by Wider Opportunities for Women as part of its State Organizing Project for Family Economic Self-Sufficiency.

Cheating Dignity: The Direct Care Wage Crisis in America references extensively the May 17, 2001 testimony before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Senate, by William J. Scanlon Director, Health Care Issues for the United States General Accounting Office, entitled “NURSING WORKFORCE: Recruitment and Retention of Nurses and Nurse Aides Is a Growing Concern.”