Kaine Applauds Creation of National Center to Strengthen the Direct Care Workforce

Kaine’s bill directs the ACL to develop national center for direct care workforce and family caregivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) announcement establishing a national center to expand and strengthen the direct care workforce. Direct care workers and family caregivers provide critical support to older Americans, people with disabilities, and individuals living with chronic conditions. Kaine, who has long advocated for the direct care workforce, introduced legislation last year that would direct the ACL to develop a national center to support the direct care workforce and family caregivers.

“I applaud the Biden Administration for establishing a national center to help recruit, retain, and train more direct care workers—which I’ve called for in my legislation,” said Senator Kaine. “This center will help ensure there are enough workers to meet the growing demand in the years to come.

Currently, 4.5 million workers, including nearly 2.3 million home care workers, make up the direct care workforce, and this industry is expected to grow by more than a million jobs by 2028, not including the jobs that will need to be filled as existing workers leave the field or exit the labor force. Better pay and benefits, strategies to recruit and retain professionals in the field, education and training enhancements, and better career advancement opportunities are some of the investments needed to meet the demands of this workforce shortage.

The shortage of direct care workers often puts pressure on family caregivers. The number of American caregivers providing unpaid caregiving has increased over the past 5 years, and 23% of caregivers say that caregiving has made their health worse. 

In addition to creating a national center, Kaine’s bill, the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to states or eligible entities to build, retain, and train the direct care workforce and family caregivers.

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SPARC Announces New Chair

Community leader to help increase awareness of and funding for adults living with disabilities

RESTON, VA, September 18, 2022 – SPARC (Specially Adapted Resource Clubs), a northern Virginia non-profit dedicated to helping adults with disabilities live productive and meaningful lives since 2006, proudly announces today that Ellen Dyke has been named Chair of its Board of Directors, effective September 10, 2022. Ms. Dyke, a graduate of the City College of the City University of New York and Howard University Law School, has practiced commercial real estate as a Partner at Venable, LLP and as Vice President and Senior Attorney at Marriott International, Inc. Her community and philanthropic service includes past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Community Education Foundation, and past recipient, with her husband Jim Dyke, of the Community Leadership Award from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. Ms. Dyke brings her special brand of expertise of connecting the philanthropic, business, and political communities to SPARC’s largely neglected but precious segment of society. 

“Too often these members of our community are left to languish in lives of quiet desperation without being given the chance to attain their full potential,” said Debi Alexander, SPARC’s Executive Director. “Too often the business community fails to recognize that SPARC provides invaluable benefits to employees and potential employees who care for these adults. We believe that Ms. Dyke’s tenure as Chair of SPARC’s Board will open hearts, minds and ultimately wallets, to assist these special members of our community and to make our work force more productive.” 

Ms. Dyke said, “I am honored, humbled and proud to be Chair of SPARC’s Board of Directors. I deeply believe that helping others, while improving the lives of those whom I may help, enriches, and adds meaning to my own life. Hopefully, I can make others feel the wonder.”

Ellen Dyke

Mother’s Day Stay at Home Tea

As we approach Mother’s Day, we are reflecting on the hardworking mothers of children with special needs everywhere, but especially those who are part of our SPARC family.

 It’s a difficult, often lonely job raising a child with developmental disabilities.  In our community we pour billions into K-12 education and those years provide many services and opportunities.  But when those children become young adults, all that support vanishes.

As one of our participants reminds us,

 “When I aged out of high school, I felt like I aged out of life.  Before SPARC, I didn’t fit into any program.”

That is why we are fiercely committed to making a difference in the lives of these mothers and their families.  Our programs and advocacy on behalf of young adults with disabilities and their parents has been continuous for sixteen years.

The joy at club is only possible thanks to friends like you.  Please join us for a cup of tea and as you sip and relax, kindly take a moment to celebrate our mothers with a gift to SPARC.

“Over the years my son has brought home Mother’s Day gifts he made for me at SPARC: a spider plant that was barely visible over the potting soil, which is now in its fourth repotting; a hand-formed painted clay pot that I look at every day; a uniquely folded card with a heartfelt message of love; and so many more.

However, the most treasured Mother’s Day gifts come from those who have helped him create those objects: the hands that helped his hands mold the pot’s shape; the voices of encouragement as he struggled to scoop in the dirt; the eyes that noticed he needed assistance in folding the paper for the card. Those are the gifts that go unnoticed but are more precious than gold.

Thank you, SPARC, for giving me years and years and years of very special Mother’s Days.” 

SPARC 2021 Annual Report

Greater Reston Chamber Features SPARC

Executive Director Debi Alexander spoke with Greater Reston Chamber Business Focus host Angela Inzerillo about SPARC’s biggest needs for the next year and how SPARC participants and the community benefit from each other.

SPARC Office Opens in Vienna

SPARC, a non-profit that provides day programs for adults with disabilities, opened its new administrative office in Vienna at The Church of the Good Shepherd, at 2351 Hunter Mill Rd. in Vienna.

“We set the stage for learning skills and habits that improve life for our club members and their families,” said SPARC Executive Director Debi Alexander. The non-profit is celebrating its 15th anniversary this fall.

Read the rest of the story at The Fairfax Times.

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