Caregivers work intimately with the elderly. They bathe, dress and feed them and help with basic hygiene. But who looks out for the caregivers?
By 2034, the number of Americans who are 65 or older is expected to outnumber children – a first in U.S. history. Providing for the elderly has become a multibillion-dollar industry, and about 29,000 residential care facilities operate across the country. But a new investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that across the U.S., caregivers in small residential communities are being overworked and underpaid. There are at least 1,400 cases nationwide in which care facility operators broke minimum wage and other labor laws, in some cases effectively paying caregivers as little as $2 an hour to work around the clock.
In this collaboration with PBS NewsHour, Reveal examines how some caregivers earn rock-bottom wages to work day and night, while their employers profit from their labor.
Jennifer Gollan is an award-winning reporter. Her investigation When Abusers Keep Their Guns, which exposed how perpetrators often kill their intimate partners with guns they possess unlawfully, spurred sweeping provisions in federal law that greatly expanded the power of local and state police and prosecutors to crack down on abusers with illegal firearms. The project won a 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and has been nominated for a 2022 Emmy Award.
Gollan also has reported on topics ranging from oil companies that dodge accountability for workers’ deaths to shoddy tire manufacturing practices that kill motorists. Her series on rampant exploitation and abuse of caregivers in the burgeoning elder care-home industry, Caregivers and Takers, prompted a congressional hearing and a statewide enforcement sweep in California to recover workers’ wages. Another investigation – focused on how Navy shipbuilders received billions in public money even after their workers were killed or injured on the job – led to tightened federal oversight of contractors’ safety violations.
Gollan’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Guardian US and Politico Magazine, as well as on PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera English’s “Fault Lines” program. Her honors include a national Emmy Award, a Hillman Prize for web journalism, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a National Headliner Award, a Gracie Award and two Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing awards. Gollan is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Rachel de Leon is a reporter and producer for TV and documentaries for Reveal. De Leon has worked in video for more than 10 years as a videographer and producer. Throughout 2017, she was the coordinating producer for Glassbreaker Films – an initiative from The Center for Investigative Reporting to support female filmmakers – helping to produce five half-hour documentaries for national and festival distribution, and more than 20 online minidocumentaries. In 2016, she won two Emmys for her work on the web series "The Dead Unknown" and the PBS NewsHour segment "Deadly Oil Fields." In 2014, she completed her first short documentary, “Cab City,” for her master’s thesis in the documentary program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. De Leon is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.
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