LeadingAge Proposes Bold Solutions to the Older Adult Services Workforce Shortage

Workforce | October 21, 2019 | by Ruth Katz

LeadingAge has released the IMAGINE Initiative – a bold set of proposals to increase the number of foreign-born aging services workers available in the United States.

The IMAGINE initiative legislative proposal includes a temporary guest worker program, changes to the J-1 cultural exchange visa, and new ways to modify current law to focus on older adult services workers.

The proposed guest worker program – modeled on current guest worker provisions for agriculture and hospitality – would allow employers to hire qualified foreign-born individuals for a fixed amount of time (possibly renewable). The employer would have to first demonstrate that there are no U.S. born workers available to fill the positions. The proposal changes the J-1 cultural exchange visa to allow “au pairs,” who are now limited to homes with children under age 18, also to work in homes with individuals over age 65 who need assistance.

LeadingAge staff and members will work hard to educate members of Congress on the older adult services workforce crisis and this potential – and partial – solution. We expect that something as bold as the IMAGINE proposals will not be considered until some other, more widely discussed immigration challenges are addressed. But, we are hopeful that members of Congress will be open to hearing about our proposed solutions, and willing to do something to help.