Report: Investing in senior and child care is both a moral and economic good

Report: Investing in senior and child care is both a moral and economic good

Americans are struggling to find jobs that offer long-term financial security for themselves and their families and, according to a new report from the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, one solution might be to make greater investment in caregiving jobs. The report, “Building the Caring Economy”, argues that investing in a caregiving economy would provide the best opportunity to address both the pressing need for caregiving in our communities while also investing in good paying jobs.

Researchers found that affordable care for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities is largely out of reach for most American families. The country’s current care systems are few and far between, creating a patchwork that often finds families on their own when care is needed most. Many families take on the role of unpaid caregivers for family members which can cause economic strain – 6 in 10 family caregivers said these responsibilities negatively impact employment.

Additionally, researchers identified that low pay and lack of benefits for workers in the caregiving industry is exacerbating an already critical care worker shortage. According to the report there are currently 7 caregivers per person 80 or older, and by 2050 there will be just 3 per person.

The report argues that if President Trump and Congress want to focus on job creation, such as investing in infrastructure projects, they should focus their energies on expanding investment and access to caregiving.

The report comes as advocates in Maine have launched a campaign to establish a universal family care system where Mainers with disabilities, seniors and families with children under the age of 4 would have guaranteed access to caregiving services. The system would ensure that families get the care they need, when they need it, and that care workers are paid living wages.

The bill, which would establish a family care system by 2021, was submitted by Representative Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) and is currently moving through the legislature.

“I am happy and proud to be the sponsor this session of legislation that will provide universal family care to meet the needs of all Maine families, regardless of income,” said Representative Gattine at the family care campaign launch in February. “We know these problems exist and we know how important it is to solve them. Yet we nibble around the edges and – instead of really helping – we use our seniors and our kids and our neighbors with disabilities as political cannon fodder and do very little to solve the real problems they face every day.”

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