Striking an infrastructure deal without investing in child and elder care is a huge mistake

Striking an infrastructure deal without investing in child and elder care is a huge mistake

Opinions by Fatima Goss Graves and Sean Garvey

Since the 10th grade, 26-year-old Briana Phillips has wanted a job in the industry. Since then, she graduated from high school, became an apprentice, and eventually pursued a career as a union ironworker at Local 44 in Cincinnati. Her disability: Consistent and reliable care for her three children.

For most of her career, Brianna paid her family to see her child, but scheduling can be very complex and inconsistent. She also tried traditional day care, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. From the time she dropped off her children in day care to the time she went in and out of work, she was late for work every day and couldn’t get enough overtime to offset the cost of day care. I didn’t do her job.

She took turns trying to stay home with the fathers of her fellow ironworkers, who missed both pension credits, which are determined by the number of hours worked. Everything came to mind in the last two months, and Brianna has been unable to pursue a career to maintain a family in which she has worked hard for nearly a decade, leaving millions of people out of the workforce. I joined a woman.

Brianna-like stories are well known to families across the country. And when the White House and Senate negotiators embody their infrastructure plans, it’s just workers like her who are at risk of being left behind by the improvements they promise. A large investment in care, including affordable access to quality child and senior care, will reach all Americans. However, leaving that support will hinder the economic growth that infrastructure investment can provide.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that he had agreed to a compromise with the Republican Party on infrastructure. Many of the details remain unknown, but we know that they include many important investments for Americans, such as roads and bridges, public transport, broadband, water and power systems. But so far, the deal has ruled out Biden’s proposal to spend $ 400 million to strengthen the care of Americans with aging and disabilities. Biden’s original infrastructure plans, including provisions for building and renewing energy-efficient child care centers, were already inadequate to raise wages and benefits for child care workers. Currently, bipartisan arrangements seem to further limit funding for childcare facilities, with only provisions to eliminate lead water pipes.

On the other hand, support for home care workers and working mothers like Brianna who need access to affordable childcare is expected to be put together in a separate bill. Or the Vice President broke the tie and 50 votes).Biden says he wants both bills Passed in tandemSenate Republicans have now agreed to a bipartisan agreement Threatening to back out Trying to thwart the reconciliation bill — leaving the future of both bills in balance.

It is important to invest in care at the same time as investing in bridges and broadband. The infrastructure plan outlined by the White House this week is important and holds great promise for our economy. But without another corresponding bill to address what care infrastructure workers like Brianna expect to be able to do their jobs, that promise would be inadequate.

The pandemic reveals that the low-wage, undervalued long-term care activities of women, especially those of color, place an unsustainable burden on them, their families, and the economy as a whole. did. But even before the pandemic, the working people who most needed access to these important aids were least likely to have it. Returning to the original location is not enough.

Fair recovery cannot be expected without addressing the lack of childcare, home and community-based services, and paid leave that have driven millions of women out of the workforce and destroyed the financial safety of their families. Individuals, businesses, philanthropy, and the “market” cannot solve this crisis. Building an economy that works for all of us requires significant investment, especially at the federal level. For now, you have to worry that it’s too little, not too much.

The path to shared prosperity is through public investment in all forms of infrastructure. Significant federal investment is required to keep costs affordable and pay workers to provide them fairly, while increasing access to care for children and the elderly. Includes Universal Child Care and Universal Paid Leave. To ensure that all the benefits of this infrastructure package reach all Americans, they need to remain a top priority for the White House and this Congress.

The Biden Harris administration and Parliament must continue to support bold and meaningful investment in our care infrastructure. A comprehensive plan to assist caregivers is not only one of the best ways to help our community thrive, but also enjoys strong bipartisan support among the American people. I will. As the pandemic begins to recede, the population ages, and our need for care becomes increasingly dire, investing in care infrastructure is a good job to support millions of people in the short and long term. Will produce. Strong public investment in care also makes our economic recovery fair, including black women, migrants, people with disabilities, and others whose labor has been undervalued and dismissed for too long. Guarantee.

For millions of workers like Brianna, this struggle for long-term care is nothing new. The pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our care infrastructure, but returning to its unfair and volatile situation will be a significant disadvantage to workers, families and the economy as a whole. We have a rare moment of building a new future for workers and families, and it’s up to Congress and the President to seize it.

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