Caregivers are essential workers. It's time we recognize them as such
We all want the same things in life: health, security and promising futures for our families. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear how caregivers -- including child care, home care and nursing home workers -- are essential to achieving this vision. But families struggle to afford care, while care jobs remain undervalued, understaffed, underprotected and underpaid. It's time for Congress and President Joe Biden to make real change.
Caregivers have taken on some of the worst burdens of the pandemic. Home care workers like Joyce Barnes in Virginia described to the Washington Post last April how she was given paper towels and rubber bands to wear as masks and was expected to buy her own hand sanitizer to use at work. Child care workers like Rosa Carreño in California witnessed a system on the verge of collapse with thousands of fellow providers closing their doors as the costs of care during the pandemic, including the additional staff needed to support distance learning, piled up.
The vast majority of direct care workers -- a group that includes personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants who work in private homes, nursing homes and other settings -- are women (86%) and people of color (59%). The under-valuing of caregiving work is directly linked to racism and sexism, so it's not surprising that caregiving is consistently -- and wrongly -- devalued as "unskilled" and "women's work."
Read the full op-ed on CNN here.
By: Elizabeth Warren and Mary Kay Henry