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NEW YORK—A new ad campaign spotlighting the joy and beauty of caregiving launched this week across Times Square and around Washington, D.C. The month-long “Portraits of Care” campaign features photo portraits of people with disabilities, aging adults, care workers and family caregivers of diverse races, genders, abilities and ages, none of whom are professional models.
The images in the campaign, captured by renowned celebrity photographer Shayan Asgharnia as part of the Communities of Care art installation created by artist activist and Women’s March co-founder Paola Mendoza, honor the beautiful and essential caregiving that takes place in our homes and communities every day, and to push for greater visibility and recognition of caregiving in its many forms. The ads include a link to a webpage where people can listen to audio interviews of the care teams sharing their care experiences—their joys, the intimacy, as well as the anger and frustrations.
“The pandemic has underscored how essential care is to our families and our economy,” said Ai-jen Poo, executive director of National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations, which commissioned the campaign. “Yet, care work is still undervalued and unrecognized. We just take for granted that women in our families will take care of us, without accounting for the cost to them or the underpaid care workers who support them. We must invest in care so that people with disabilities and family caregivers can remain in the workforce, rather than have to choose between financial security and their own wellbeing, or the health of their loved ones.”
One in four adults in the U.S. have some type of disability, and many more people depend on support from childcare workers, in-home health aides and family caregivers. However, caregiving is largely invisible work because it often occurs in the privacy of our homes and is often done by women of color. More than 90 percent of care jobs are held by women; three out of five home care workers are people of color and one in three are immigrants.
Two years into the pandemic, many people still struggle to get the care they need for themselves and their loved ones. Even when people are able to hire care workers they can’t always retain them at the low wages they earn for their critical work.
“All across America, home care worker shortages are leaving aging adults and disabled people without care and forcing them into dangerous nursing homes,” said Ilana Berger, New York director of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, a co-producer of the ad campaign. “We need investments that will make home care affordable for consumers, and fair wages for workers to prevent them fleeing from the sector.”
Elected leaders in Washington D.C. are negotiating changes that could mean hundreds of thousands of more people can get the care they need across the lifespan, including long-term care and paid leave.