94% of Americans think the country wasn’t prepared to face the crisis, and nearly 70% believe major reform of the country’s response to the pandemic needed

 Large majorities say the crisis has made them think about and value caregivers more

For Immediate Release: May 13, 2020

Caring Across Generations Contact: Janet Kim, janet@caringacross.org

NDWA Contact: Nidya Sarria-King, nidya@domesticworkers.org

WASHINGTON, DC – With House Democrats unveiling a new coronavirus rescue bill Tuesday, and Congress debating how big to go — and who to include —  in the next round of relief, a new poll shows that Americans are now strongly in support of a bold federal response that puts workers and families first. The comprehensive new survey released today by Caring Across Generations and National Domestic Workers Alliance reveals how the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed our politics and Americans’ views of the role of government. 

The survey finds that after long operating in the shadows and out of the public consciousness, this crisis has put domestic workers and care providers front and center. And Americans overwhelmingly agree: thanking essential workers is not enough.

Notably, the House bill released Tuesday features a Heroes Fund that would provide premium pay to a broad group of essential workers, including domestic workers, and closes loopholes in access to emergency paid sick days and paid family leave in previous relief efforts – provisions this survey suggests would enjoy broad popularity with the American public. 

The survey also delves into questions of how this crisis has impacted American families’ day-to-day lives, employment situations, caregiving responsibilities, and views on what the government should be doing to care for frontline workers, working parents, and family caregivers. Among other things, the survey finds that:

  • Americans are practically unanimous in their thinking that America should have been better prepared to face this crisis (94%), and believe that we need a major reform of the country’s response to the pandemic (67%).
  • Americans no longer have the same expectations for their lives (43%), and have become less confident in both the healthcare system (31%) and America’s social safety net (40%).
  • Americans decisively say they want the government to be doing more to solve problems and help (68%) rather than leaving it up to individuals. 
  • Four out of five respondents want to respond by supporting caregivers with a living wage, healthcare, childcare, and paid leave – a much higher percentage than those who said it was important to reopen businesses. 

“In every major crisis, domestic workers have always played a critical role in America’s emergency response, and have done so overworked, underpaid, and without the same protections afforded to other frontline workers,” said Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations. “Finally, these essential workers are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve – and Americans are realizing that simply thanking them is not enough.”

“The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have foregrounded the gaping holes in our care infrastructure,” Poo continued. “Across America, too many American families have been forced to face the crisis alone and navigate it without a safety net. Americans support a bold care agenda that will put more money in their pockets, enhance their families’ well-being, and put their dreams of security within reach.” 

Federal response out-of-touch with what American families actually want and expect

  • Americans view coronavirus and its widespread impacts as a major crisis facing the country (81%), and one that America should have been better prepared to face (94%).
  • A majority of Americans (59%) believe the federal government should take the lead role in coordinating with state and local governments, rather than state and local government taking the lead.  
  • Most Americans believe that we need a major reform of the country’s response to the pandemic (67%) as they report struggling to cope with multiple challenges and uncertainties.
  • To get the country back to work, Americans believe the first priority is widespread and repeated testing (84%). This is followed by a recognition that significant policy changes are needed to provide greater support to Americans performing critical roles, including paid caregivers (78%) and family caregivers (75%). This compares to only 56% of Americans deeming reopening non-essential businesses critical or very important. 

Essential and frontline workers are out of the shadows

Due to COVID-19, Americans are placing more value in many workers who are frequently overlooked in society for the critical work they provide:

Response to COVID-19 has dramatically changed Americans’ fundamental beliefs 

  • On a personal level, many Americans report that they no longer have the same expectations for their lives (43%).  
  • On a policy level, Americans have become less confident in both the healthcare system (31%) and America’s social safety net (40%).
  • At this transformative moment, Americans decisively say they want their government to be doing more to solve problems and help (68%) rather than leaving it up to individuals.  
  • Americans, including 57% of Republicans, affirm that caregiving is both an individual and social responsibility (73%) and want the federal government to become more involved in providing support in this area. In contrast, only 27% of Americans say that caregiving is an individual family responsibility that warrants no additional government support.

Americans broadly recognize the essential role of paid and family caregiving

  • A strong majority of Americans report being more likely to want to support public officials electorally who will support paid caregivers (77%). Across party lines, Americans believe that the federal government should be doing more to support paid caregivers (69%).
  • Overwhelmingly, Americans affirm that paid caregivers shouldreceive basic support and benefits—including a living wage (93%) and paid sick leave (92%)—even if it means an increase in federal funding.
  • Family caregivers have seen their caregiving responsibilities increased significantly (72%), and most are finding the balance between the two to no longer be sustainable (60%). 
  • Majorities of family caregivers are concerned about their ability to work at the same level as they did before their caregiving responsibilities increased (56%), and for those working at home, most are also concerned about being able to continue working (58%).

Hart Research conducted the survey on May 1-4, 2020. To learn more, see the TOPLINES and RESEARCH.


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About National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by over 60 affiliate organizations and local chapters and by a growing membership base of nannies, house cleaners and care workers in over 20 states. NDWA has created Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits, not otherwise granted to them, in addition to proposing a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights with Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.  Learn more about the domestic workers movement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Caring Across Generations:

Caring Across Generations is an intersectional campaign working to make care more affordable and accessible at every stage of life, while making sure caregivers are treated with respect and dignity. Founded in 2011 by workers’ rights activists Sarita Gupta and Ai-jen Poo, we’re focused on creating change in three ways: organizing a powerful movement of the Caring Majority, fighting for groundbreaking policy at the state level and federal level, and changing hearts and minds through storytelling and leveraging pop culture. For more information, please visit caringacross.org