PRESS RELEASE: Caregiving Advocacy Groups Announce Massive $20M Campaign In New #CareCantWait Coalition

Groups to Spend $20M Pushing Congress to Make Significant Investments in America’s Caregiving Infrastructure, Expand Paid Family Leave, Child Care Access and Home and Community-Based Services for People with Disabilities and Aging Adults

#CareCantWait Coalition Says Investments in Caregiving Will Create Jobs, Boost Economic Security, and Help Women and People of Color Who Make Up Most of America’s Caregiving Workforce

WASHINGTON, DC — A broad coalition of organizations and caregiver advocacy groups has come together to launch a new $20 million dollar #CareCantWait campaign. The coalition is working to ensure that the Biden Administration and Congress include significant investments in America’s care infrastructure in the upcoming federal jobs, infrastructure and recovery package. That includes passing legislation to expand access to child care, paid family and medical leave, and home and community-based services for people with disabilities and aging adults, and ensure good jobs are created in the care economy.

Citing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. caregiving infrastructure, which relied heavily on women, especially women of color, leaving the workforce to stay home or provide paid care, the coalition argues that an investment in the country’s caregiving workforce and care infrastructure would create millions of jobs, while enabling parents and family caregivers to return to the workforce.

Specifically, the coalition is demanding that the upcoming federal recovery package:

  1. Invest $450 billion in Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services to create over one million quality, union protected direct care jobs, expanding access to home and community-based services to people with disabilities and aging adults, and support unpaid family caregivers so they can re-join the labor force.
  2. Pass the Child Care for Working Families Act to ensure that no family pays more than 7% of their income for child care and that early educators have pay parity.
  3. Pass Paid Family and Medical Leave Legislation that would ensure all working people have access to at least 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, address a personal or family related illness, or handle needs that arise from a military deployment.

The #CareCantWait coalition is led by Caring Across Generations; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap; Community Change & Economic Security Project Community Change; Family Values @ Work; MomsRising; National Domestic Workers Alliance; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Women’s Law Center; Paid Leave for All; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); The Arc; TIMES UP; and Zero To Three.

In the past year, 32% of women aged 25 – 34 report being pushed out of the labor force due to a lack of family care, proving how essential a strong care infrastructure is to the U.S. job market. In 2020, more than 2.3 million women lost their jobs — over 600,000 are Black and over 618,000 are Latina.

Those within the caregiving workforce — 31% of whom are Black women — have been on the front lines of the pandemic without adequate pay or support. Today, many caregiving professionals live in poverty, with median annual ​earnings of about​ $20,000 for home health aides​, ​$21,920 for personal care aides​, and ​$13,558 for nannies​.

Robust investment in the care economy  would create millions of new jobs for the women hit hardest by this crisis, generate hundreds of billions in economic activity, and allow millions of women who have been pushed out of the labor force to return. With home health aides and personal care assistants being the third and fourth fastest growing occupations in the United States, investing a benchmark of $77.5 billion per year would support over two million new jobs. Over 10 years, this translates to 22.5 million jobs.

“Caregivers are the backbone of our economy. Our workforce will only recover when we invest in good care for families, including the care jobs that enable others to go back to work,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations. “During the pandemic, too many of us were forced to stop working due to caregiving responsibilities — particularly women, people of color and immigrants, the same populations who disproportionately occupy jobs in our care economy. This is a once-in-several-generations opportunity to both strengthen our economic foundation while addressing long standing inequities in opportunity.”

“The pandemic did not create the caregiving crisis, but it has pushed women to a dangerous breaking point,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation and TIME’S UP Now. “We can’t go back to the way things were. Now is the moment to rebuild better than before and that starts with a robust investment in our country’s fragile care infrastructure.”

“As the country begins its economic recovery, it cannot come without addressing the need to expand the service system that supports people with disabilities and aging adults to live safely in their homes and communities. This expansion would create more and better jobs for those who provide direct care, and people with disabilities themselves — who may need services in order to work — would also be able to be a part of  the workforce. For too long the country’s long-term services and support (LTSS) systems have relied on unpaid family caregivers, with the only alternatives being a system of supports with long waiting lists or large facility-based care, leaving family members without options except to leave the workforce,” explained Nicole Jorwic, Senior Director of Public Policy, The Arc of the United States. “As a Nation we must invest in the home-and community based care LTSS system so that there are enough direct care workforce jobs to meet the growing need, people with disabilities can be a part of the workforce with the right supports, and so that unpaid family caregivers who have been filling the gaps in care can re-enter the workforce.”

“The grassroots organizers who fought for the American Rescue Plan secured a newfound level of support for families hurt the most by this historic crisis. Congress can build upon that foundation by ensuring our nation’s care infrastructure can provide high-quality, affordable care and equitably reimburse care workers for the labor we all depend on,” added Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “As schools reopen and parents return to work, we must reject the impulse to render child care, the workers who provide it, and the value it brings all of us invisible once more.”

“Women and moms were hanging by a thread before the pandemic, and now that thread has unraveled.  The pandemic is having an outsized impact on women and moms, with women and moms of color experiencing compounded health and economic harms due to structural racism. We need action now,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director, MomsRising. “Just like we need to build bridges to drive to work, we need to build a care infrastructure so parents can hold jobs, children and those we care for at home can thrive, and care workers and early educators have sustainable jobs that pay fairly. It’s not lost on moms that care investments are both job creating and job enabling. They create good jobs and enable parental employment.”

“Caregiving is the fastest-growing job in America,” said Mary Kay Henry, International President, SEIU. “It’s time we make these good, union jobs as we did with the auto and steel jobs of the last century. We have a chance to respect, protect, and pay the Black, Latina, and immigrant women who make up the majority of the caregiving workforce, to create the most inclusive, racially-diverse middle-class America has ever seen. At the same time, we can build and reinforce the workforce necessary to meet the needs of our families, older adults, and people with disabilities for high-quality, affordable care. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to redefine ‘women’s work,’ and position it properly as the cornerstone of the American economy that it is.

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