Press Release: Care Worker Bill Passes CO Legislature

Colorado Care Workers Celebrate As Legislature Approves Bill To Give Caregivers More Voice on Jobs, Quality of Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Media Contacts: David Fernandez, dfernandez@seiu105.org, 720-276-0892

Kyle Gawroriski, kgawroriski@seiu105.org, (303) 589-3356

Rachel Hogan, rachel.hogan@seiu.org, 202-549-9678


Following years of care workers taking action and speaking out, Colorado legislature passes bill to strengthens their voice in shaping industry

Board will bring together care workers, the people receiving care, employers, and government to address Colorado’s care crisis



*Click here for photos and videos of care workers lobbying at the capitol over the past several weeks.


DENVER, CO – In a huge victory for Colorado’s care workers, the Colorado legislature last night passed the Direct Care Workforce Stabilization Board, SB 23-261. After months of care workers lobbying, showing up in force to testify, and building bipartisan support for the bill, Colorado care workers are celebrating the bill’s passage as a major step forward in addressing the care crisis and building a better care system for all those who provide and need care.


The Direct Care Workforce Stabilization Board establishes a process by which those most impacted by Colorado’s care crisis–direct care workers, people who receive care, employers—and government officials can come together to make recommendations to address chronically low wages, limited benefits and other issues that are driving care workers to leave the industry in record numbers.


“For too long, care work–done mostly by women, many women of color and immigrants–has been dismissed and undervalued due to sexism and racism, leading to low pay, poor conditions and a lack of voice for workers. After years of care workers organizing and making our voices heard, Colorado has taken a big step to start to right that wrong. Care workers and the people receiving care know best what it will take to fix things and keep workers in these jobs. With this Board, we will have the voice we deserve,” said Charmayne Phillips, chair of Colorado Care Workers Unite and Denver home care worker of over 25 years.


For years, care workers in Colorado have been organizing and demanding action to raise pay and address the poor conditions faced on the job. The bill responds to care workers’ demands for a seat at the table, alongside consumers, employers and government, to help make recommendations for standards needed to help stabilize the industry, creating better jobs for care workers and ensuring quality dependable care for communities.


For years, care workers in Colorado have been organizing and demanding action to raise pay and address the poor conditions faced on the job. The bill responds to care workers’ demands for a seat at the table, alongside consumers, employers and government, to help make recommendations for standards needed to help stabilize the industry, creating better jobs for care workers and ensuring quality dependable care for communities.


“These workers provide important care for our aging loved ones and Coloradans with disabilities, but many care workers cannot even afford the basic necessities. The unlivable wages, limited benefits and unsuitable working conditions have created a care worker shortage, impacting access to critical care services in our communities. This bill is a great first step towards addressing the needs of our care workforce. It will give care workers a seat at the table to come up with recommendations necessary to help care workers to live with dignity and ensure Colorado can plan for quality, accessible care now and in the future,” said House Majority Leader Monica Duran (House District 23).


Care workers say the legislation is necessary for advancing racial and gender justice. In Colorado, nearly 9 out of 10 care workers are women and one in three direct care workers come from Black, Latino, and otherwise marginalized communities.


“Simply put, we don’t have enough direct care providers in our state. There are a lot of older adults and Coloradans with disabilities who depend on the critical care these workers provide. Colorado’s population is aging rapidly and the need for care workers is too. This legislation is a key part of how Colorado can address immediate concerns and also plan for the future, to not only stabilize the workforce but also grow and improve it, to ensure better conditions and pay and better care for consumers,” said Senator Jessie Danielson (Senate District 22)


The bill has attracted strong support from advocates from care consumers, organizations and advocates within Colorado’s disability community, and groups representing aging Coloradans. Once it is signed by the Governor, members must be appointed to the Board no later than October 1, 2023. The sponsors of this bill were Senator Jessie Danielson and Senator Tony Exum in the Senate and Majority Leader Monica Duran and Representative Jenny Wilford in the House.


“As people who rely on direct care workers, nothing is more important than making sure that this essential workforce is well treated and fairly compensated. These workers make the difference between having a life that works, and one that does not. This board is a great way to help all parties come together and figure out the policies and practices to make sure our workers have the resources they need to continue this life-sustaining work,” said Julie Reiskin, Co-Executive Director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.


In Colorado and across the country, the need for home care is growing dramatically. Colorado is the second-fastest aging state in the country, with the population of 65 and over expected to grow 49% by 2030. Among adults 65 and older, 70% of people will require some form of care, and the overwhelming majority will prefer to receive this care in the comfort of their home and community. Yet, high turnover in the industry and the resulting care worker shortage has made accessing continuous care a challenge for many Coloradans.


“Home care makes my life worth living. Without home care, my dishes wouldn’t get done, my bed wouldn’t get made, and so many other things that I need support to do. Even more important is the connection and companionship that direct care workers provide. This bill ensures care workers and clients are heard about the issues that impact us and what needs to be done to change things for the better,” said Verna Smith, former care worker who currently receives home care services in Denver.

Once established, the Board will consist of fifteen members — four direct care workers, four representing direct care consumers, four employer or employer organizations, and one representative from the Department of Labor and Employment— to convene and through public process and care worker engagement, issue recommendations about wages, benefits and working conditions for consideration by the Colorado legislature and the Governor. The board must report its initial recommendations by September 1, 2024.


“Decisions about care have been made without our voices at the table–causing big ripple effects for our families, especially in rural parts or our state. This board will mean care workers and consumers can bring our knowledge and concerns to the table–and help guide decisions, so that families can count on the quality consistent care we deserve,” said Mary Jo Baudino, a rural home care worker in Trinidad and a leader with Colorado Care Workers Unite.


Colorado joins a growing number of states that are setting up worker standard boards to empower working people to play a larger role in setting basic standards for jobs in essential sectors like caregiving. According to the Center for American Progress, since 2018 four states and three local government bodies have created worker standard boards that create a new way for workers, employers, and government to set minimum job standards.


Colorado Care Workers Unite is a growing organization uniting healthcare workers in Colorado, fighting for industry-wide improvements for caregivers & our clients. Together we will organize & advocate for policy changes that will increase our wages, improve training & win the benefits we need on the job.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105 is the largest healthcare union in Colorado, uniting more than 8,000 healthcare, property service, and airport workers in Colorado. Our union is part of the fastest-growing union in North America, whose 2 million members make up the largest healthcare union, the largest property services union, and the second-largest public services union.