Next Wednesday, when ICS celebrates the grand opening of our Bronx office at 400 Fordham Road, ICS also celebrates a homecoming. As some of you know, Independence Care System (ICS) was born in the Bronx in 1999. By then, my colleagues and I had spent 25 years running a homecare agency called Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), today the nation’s largest worker-owned cooperative.
Many of the people who received home care through CHCA were people with physical disabilities and chronic conditions. They taught us the types of services they needed to maintain their independence in the community. This learning influenced the founding of ICS as a nonprofit Medicaid managed long-term care program years later. It also led us to recognize the growing need for a voice for direct care workers, those who provide that home care.
In our view, direct care workers having a good job that they cared about and got paid fairly to do was key to ensuring that senior adults and people with disabilities and chronic conditions got the care they needed to live at home. That idea became the motto—“Quality Care for Quality Jobs”—for PHI, another organization we founded. PHI does advocacy and policy work to support the needs and concerns of direct care workers as well as providing training and organizational development services to the organizations that employ direct care workers.
Our three sister organizations grew up together, relying on each other’s strengths and expertise to help each organization develop and expand. For the first time in many years, we will have a home base together, under one roof in the Bronx.
As for ICS, growing an organization in the Bronx is, I imagine, a lot like growing up in the Bronx. You think of yourself as an underdog, you get tough, and you become a fighter for what you believe. Through the years, ICS has had to fight for our members—for enough funding to care for people with the highest needs, and even for recognition of what those needs are. While the fight continues, we’ve seen success. Today, ICS has more than 4,500 members and counting. CHCA has more than 1,600 workers caring for senior adults and people with disabilities across the Bronx and northern Manhattan. And PHI has become a nationally recognized leader in the fight for quality jobs for the fast-growing field of home care.
For ICS, in addition to having more opportunities to collaborate with our two sister organizations, having space in the Bronx means that we can provide our Bronx and Northern Manhattan members with more convenient access to much needed, community-based services like on-site wheelchair evaluation and repair and social programs.
We welcome you to visit our Bronx office. You can check out some pictures of the new space here. We hope to see you in the Bronx soon!