A “New Deal” for the caregiving workforce

As a CCI Action member and supporter, I remember feeling excited learning about Caring Across Generations at CCI Action’s Sept. 21, 2019 People’s Presidential Forum.  We heard stories of family members whose lives are put on hold as they care for older and very young family members. We learned about this multiracial, multi-generational movement to transform the way we care so that everyone providing and receiving care can do so with dignity. We put the presidential candidates on notice about what we wanted as an important plank in a people-and-planet-first platform.

Well, even though Joe Biden did not attend that forum or speak at our convention, his campaign has released a plan that starts to address this critical issue. That is what our CCI Action movement politics does: it puts policies above the politician. Among the ripples we started, and the promises Joe’s opponents made on the stage last fall, I am sure our voices were heard and contributed to this plan. And that’s why I wanted to make sure you knew about it.

Joe Biden’s plan for a “21st century caregiving and education workforce” has been called a “New Deal for the Helping Community.” It provides public investments and support in both expanding this workforce and giving it the tools and resources to fulfill its vital role. The plan recognizes, as society ages, there are increased needs for direct care workers to enable seniors to live in dignity. As more parents are in the workforce and must balance breadwinning and caregiving roles, it recognizes there are increased needs for child care and family leave and family support policies.

Specifically, the plan calls for a transformational investment in this workforce, expanding by 3 million the number of frontline workers providing community health and child care services. It calls for doubling investments in home visiting, increasing staff in community schools to provide health and counseling services, and increasing investments in community health centers and health practitioners in providing care coordination and child development guidance. The $775 billion ten-year investment is fully financed by rolling back unproductive and unequal tax breaks for real estate investors with incomes over $400,000 and taking steps to increase tax compliance for high-income earners.

In the midst of public discourse around mail-in ballots and peaceful transfer of power, this is exactly the kind of thing that could get lost. But this is what we really fought for: policies that make the world a caring place. And now that Covid-19 has exposed how fragile the fabric of social support for families caring for family members has become, it has also forced us to redefine what we mean by “essential workers”. We now know how important frontline workers in health, education, and human services are to our society. They only will become more important in the future. We may be fighting for our democracy in this election, but we are also fighting for a just and more caring nation. This is one part of that.

So I am asking you to share this plan among your friends and with these frontline workers you run into every day, that this election is about their work and their lives, and they should vote accordingly.  

Tom Rendon, CCI Action member