The United States (US) caregiving industry is facing a lot of challenges. These include labor force shortages in nursing homes and childcare centers. This is coupled with the unaffordability of care services for children and the aging population (Landivar 2023). According to Boston Consulting Group, the US could lose $230 billion by 2030 if the care crisis is not addressed.
On April 18, 2023, the White House released a list of executive actions to support and improve caregiving in the United States. According to the executive actions factsheet, the Presidency is committed to supporting investment in high-quality affordable childcare, preschool education, and long-term eldercare. These agendas would be achieved by ensuring federal agencies identify grant programs that can support childcare and long-term care for federal workers; improving veterans’ access to home-based care; ensuring tangible remuneration of early childhood educators; providing short-term care to ease the burden of family caregivers; promoting care workers’ rights through fair pay and the rights to unionization, and guaranteeing the construction of early childhood facilities in tribal communities. Also, these would be attained in collaboration with “parents, guardians, and other relatives with care responsibilities; individuals receiving long-term care; State and local care experts; care providers and workers; employers; and labor unions.”
This is a move in the right direction because it will assuage the care struggles that Americans, especially women, face. Women engage in the bulk of the care work in the US from providing childcare in their homes, working in the care workforce as home-based or nursing home caregivers and as early childhood educators, to being family caregivers (Sharma, Chakrabarti, and Grover 2016; Hickey, Sawo, and Wolfe 2022; Zippia.com 2021). On top of these, Women often than not resign from their jobs due to the caregiving demands of the family (DePillis, Smialek, and Casselman 2022). Similarly, with the pandemic, women working in childcare centers and nursing homes leave their jobs due to low wages (Gusoff 2022; Kim 2022; Marcil 202).
Paid Parental Leave
The United States remains the only developed nation without a standardized paid parental leave policy. Though in November 2021, this was a crucial agenda of Biden’s government: the U.S. Congress proposed four weeks of federal paid parental leave bill which was reduced from the earlier proposed twelve weeks of paid parental leave on April 28, 2021. Moreover, federally employed staff through the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) have up to twelve weeks of paid parental leave which began in October 2020 (US Department of Labor). Whereas, some private organizations are yet to commit to paid parental leave with the exception of about 180 companies that offer comprehensive maternity leave, according to the Fairygodboss (2022).
Among the list of executive actions, parental leave is missing. Though, according to the White House, the 2024 fiscal year budget provides “a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, providing up to 12 weeks of leave to allow eligible workers to take time off to care for and bond with a new child; care for a seriously ill loved one; heal from their own serious illness; address circumstances arising from a loved one’s military deployment; or find safety from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.” As such, the inclusion of a paid parental leave in the executive action would allow private organizations and local businesses to commit to parental leave and could limit the free will of corporations to remove or change their organizational commitment as Twitter recently did, with its reduction of paid parental leave from twenty weeks to two weeks (Cawley 2023).
Since this is an important policy, I would have expected its inclusion in the executive actions. Moreover, the commitment to it in Fiscal Year 2024 could be a reason for its omission, which then subjects the policy again to Senate and House approvals.
In close, the U.S. losses $650 billion annually when women leave the labor force (Srikanth 2021). As such, if the U.S. commits to these executive actions and paid parental leave, it would promote women’s inclusion and career growth in the workplace, increase women’s economic power, and boost the U.S. economy. This would also permit women’s access to work-life balance.
Cawley, Conor. 2023. “Elon Musk Slashes Parental Leave at Twitter to Only Two Weeks.” Tech.Co. Retrieved May 3, 2023 (https://tech.co/news/musk-parental-leave-twitter).
DePillis, Lydia, Jeanna Smialek, and Ben Casselman. 2022. “Jobs Aplenty, but a Shortage of Care Keeps Many Women From Benefiting.” The New York Times, July 7.
Fairygodboss. 2022. “Paid Maternity Leave: 180 Companies Who Offer The Most Paid Leave.” Retrieved May 3, 2023 (https://fairygodboss.com/articles/paid-maternity-leave-companies-who-offer-the-most-paid-leave).
Gusoff, Geoff. 2022. “Transforming Low-Wage Healthcare: The Promise of Worker Ownership.” Non-Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved May 3, 2023 (https://nonprofitquarterly.org/transforming-low-wage-healthcare-the-promise-of-worker-ownership/).
Hickey, Sebastian Martinez, Marokey Sawo, and Julia Wolfe. 2022. “The State of the Residential Long-Term Care Industry: A Comprehensive Look at Employment Levels, Demographics, Wages, Benefits, and Poverty Rates of Workers in the Industry.” Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved April 27, 2023 (https://www.epi.org/publication/residential-long-term-care-workers/).
Kim, Charles. 2022. “Factors Impacting Employee Turnover in the Childcare Industry.” Leading with People Analytics. Retrieved May 3, 2023 (https://d3.harvard.edu/platform-peopleanalytics/submission/factors-impacting-employee-turnover-in-the-childcare-industry/).
Kos, Emily, Suchi Sastri, Nan DasGupta, Sajdeh Rohan, Gabrielle Novasek, Alicia Pittman, Neeru Ravi, and Anisha Vashi. 2022. Solving the $290 Billion Care Crisis. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Boston Consulting Group (BCG). https://www.bcg.com/publications/2022/solving-the-care-crisis
Landivar, Christin. 2023. “New Childcare Data Shows Prices Are Untenable for Families.” DOL Blog. Retrieved April 25, 2023 (http://blog.dol.gov/2023/01/24/new-childcare-data-shows-prices-are-untenable-for-families).
Marcil, Sharon. 2023. “Care Economy: Why the US Must Tackle the Looming Care Crisis.” World Economic Forum. Retrieved April 27, 2023 (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/01/care-economy-us-major-economic-crisis-us-davos-2023/).
Schochet, Leila. 2019. “The Child Care Crisis Is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce.” Center for American Progress. Retrieved April 25, 2023 (https://www.americanprogress.org/article/child-care-crisis-keeping-women-workforce/).
Sheffey, Juliana Kaplan, Ayelet. n.d. “Biden Is Once Again Pushing to Give All US Workers Paid Parental Leave— and He Wants Their Kids to Have Free Universal Preschool, Too.” Business Insider. Retrieved April 25, 2023 (https://www.businessinsider.com/paid-parental-leave-free-preschool-bidens-budget-childcare-2023-3).
Srikanth, Anagha. 2021. “Women Leaving the Workforce Is Costing the US Economy $650B: Report.” The Hill. Retrieved April 27, 2023 (https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/equality/565691-women-leaving-the-workforce-is-costing-the-us-economy-650b/).
The White House. 2023. “FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Most Sweeping Set of Executive Actions to Improve Care in History.” The White House. Retrieved April 22, 2023 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/04/18/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-most-sweeping-set-of-executive-actions-to-improve-care-in-history/).
The White House. 2023. “FACT SHEET: The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 | OMB.” The White House. Retrieved April 25, 2023 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/briefing-room/2023/03/09/fact-sheet-the-presidents-budget-for-fiscal-year-2024/).
US Department of Labor. 2023. “Paid Parental Leave.” DOL. Retrieved April 25, 2023 (http://www.dol.gov/general/jobs/benefits/paid-parental-leave).
Zippia.com. 2021. “Child Daycare Worker Demographics and Statistics : Number Of Child Daycare Workers In The US.” Retrieved April 27, 2023 (https://www.zippia.com/child-daycare-worker-jobs/demographics/).