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The Double-Edged Sword of CDPA: A Black and Disabled Perspective

By Julian Hiler


As someone who has been a recipient of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPA) for the past eight years, I've had my fair share of experiences—both good and bad—with the program. While CDPA offers a level of autonomy and flexibility that traditional home care services can't match, it's not without its pitfalls.


The Benefits of CDPA


Autonomy and Control

The most significant advantage of CDPA is the autonomy it provides. I get to hire, train, and manage my own personal assistants, which means I have a say in who enters my home and how my care is administered. This is especially crucial for me as a Black and Disabled individual, as it allows me to choose caregivers who are culturally sensitive and understand the unique challenges I face.


Flexibility

CDPA is not a one-size-fits-all program. I can tailor the services to fit my specific needs, whether that's assistance with daily activities or more specialized nursing tasks. This flexibility has been a lifeline for me.


The Pitfalls of CDPA


Lack of Oversight

One of the most glaring issues I've encountered is the lack of oversight. Personal assistants often come into the healthcare field on a private duty basis and assume they can operate without consequences. I've had to let go of numerous aides over the years due to their lack of compassion and professionalism. It's as if they think no one is watching them—and technically, they're right.


Low Wages

Another significant issue is the low wages that personal assistants receive. This not only affects the quality of applicants but also impacts the level of care. Low wages often lead to high turnover rates, making it difficult to maintain a consistent level of care.


A Call for Reform


Given my experiences, I believe it's high time for some changes in the CDPA program. One suggestion would be for agencies to conduct monthly housekeeping visits. These visits would serve as a check-in to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that personal assistants are performing their duties adequately. This would add a layer of accountability that is currently missing from the program.


Final Thoughts


CDPA has the potential to be a game-changer for people with disabilities, offering us the autonomy and flexibility we so desperately need. However, the program is far from perfect. Increased oversight and fair wages for personal assistants are critical steps towards making CDPA more effective and reliable.


As someone who has navigated the complexities of CDPA for nearly a decade, I can say that the program is a double-edged sword. While it has empowered me in many ways, the lack of oversight and low wages for aides have been significant obstacles. It's time for a reform that ensures not just the autonomy but also the well-being of those who rely on CDPA for their care.

Jensen Caraballo written in cursive.

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