An Earned Wage Solution for the 21st Century Caregiver

“Accessing my pay when I need it has brought me major stress relief when it comes to putting gas in my car and buying food. I am grateful to the Palco program for having this resource.”

– Palco Self-Directing Caregiver

Caregiver Crisis

It’s difficult to miss news discussing the caregiver crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic, an aging population with increasing disabilities, and decades of state and federal underinvestment in Long Term Services and Supports have laid bare the challenges. We now need to find solutions that contain meaningful actions.

The 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers was a strategic framework created to “support family caregivers of all ages, from youth to grandparents, and regardless of where they live or what caregiving looks like for them and their loved ones.”  One of the first action items was to find a shared vision, which ultimately looked like a home where caregivers have the “support needed to provide care without jeopardizing their own financial, emotional, and physical stability.”

Social Determinants and Diversity of Caregiver Needs

Historically, supporting the direct care workforce (caregivers) has been overlooked by most, and during the COVID-19 pandemic became an urgent public health issue. It is now unquestionable that if caregivers lack the resources to maintain their personal health, emotional well-being, and financial security, both the caregiver and the person receiving care are compromised.

Caregivers who specialize in providing care to self-directing participants in the long-term care sector tend to be compassionate people that appreciate the fulfillment that comes with supporting the personal choice of the participant to stay safe at home and in the community. They are also incredibly hard-working people who encounter professional stressors and low wages.

Figure one is a graphic that shows the divers needs family cargiver have and the wide range of factors that imact their needs. Source The gerontologist
Figure 1 adapted from, Family caregivers themselves are diverse and have heterogeneous needs that are shaped by a wide range of factors. Image Source: The Gerontologist. 2020 Fe; 60 (Supp 1): S14-S28.

According to a June 2020 Aspen Institute report titled “The True Cost of Caregiving,” professional caregivers are among the lowest-paid workers in the nation, and many do not have access to labor protections or workplace benefits.  

Offering Meaningful Benefits

A study* of U.S. workers completed by The Harris Poll for the company Ceridian in August 2021 found that 4 in 5 U.S. workers (83%) between the ages of 18 and 44 believe they should have access to their earned wages at the end of each workday/shift.

Further, the finding revealed:

  • 8 in 10 workers (80%) would prefer to have their pay automatically streamed into their bank accounts as they earn it. This is the future of ‘always on’ payroll – automatically deposited as wages are earned.
  • As the war for top talent continues, the majority of workers (78%) agree that access to on-demand pay, provided to them at no cost, would increase their loyalty to an employer. When provided a solution of this kind, the same group believes it would make them feel more valued as an employee (79%).
  • 81% are likely to say they would take a job with an employer that provides access to earned wages on demand at no cost to them over an employer that does not.

It is increasingly clear that supporting caregivers with meaningful financial benefits will ease their daily personal burdens, alleviate stressors, and provide enough value to retain such an important person.

*Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ceridian from August 9 – 11, 2021 among 1,004 employed adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Earned Wage Access

Payroll is no exception to Palco’s continued technological improvements. Palco is working to enhance the payroll experience for caregivers and improve the overall Financial Management Service (FMS) provided to states, MCOs, and their Medicaid self-directed waiver participants by providing a desirable benefit at no cost. Caregivers receiving their payroll through Palco can now access a portion of their pay after every shift!

As the caregiving crisis continues, Palco will continue to seek solutions to ease the payroll processing challenges of self-directing participants, support caregivers, and serve eligible Medicaid recipients across the country. The tried and true “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” is always at the forefront of our minds, seeking to ensure that the physiological and safety needs of the people we serve and those that serve them are being met day after day.

Graph of Maslow's hierarchy of needs

“Accessing my pay when I need it has brought me major stress relief when it comes to putting gas in my car and buying food. I am grateful to the Palco program for having this resource.” – Caregiver

We Serve People

Palco is rooted in the self-direction landscape by history, commitment, and choice. Although the Financial Management Service industry is changing faster than ever, our purpose of supporting individuals and their families to thrive at home and in their community acts as our North Star.

Wages Now complements Palco’s service to our customers, and we are excited to offer this innovative payroll experience. For more information about partnering with Palco, email 

Image of Cynthia Rademacher Director of Marketing and Business Development

by Cynthia Rademacher
Director of Marketing and Business Development

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