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Why Paid Leave and Care Just Can’t Wait


How do you afford enough time off work to be with a newborn child, while your body may still be healing?

What will you do when your aging parents need full-time help?

How do you get off the waitlist for child care?

How do you find and afford support for a disabled loved one?

How do you do many of these all at once?

As respectively the Founding Director of Paid Leave for All and the Executive Director of Caring Across Generations, when we talk to voters across the country—and particularly to women voters who often play an outsize role in deciding elections—these are the questions we hear.

Reproductive rights and freedom are top of mind for millions of us. So are questions of how to give care, how to find care, how to afford care for our families. We know that has been the case in our own lives. Whether that be walking away from a house in the morning in tears listening to your colicky baby screaming for you, going back to work sometimes doubled over in pain, pumping in the back of storage closets delirious without sleep, the total panic of losing child care. Or wondering who will care for your mother whose dementia is progressing rapidly hundreds of miles away, and whose emergency room visits have become more frequent and frightening as the months go by. Or running out of care options for your grandfather and having to place him in a nursing home in a room full of strangers, where the workers are overwhelmed and underpaid, and he quietly disappears into loneliness and fear. Care has defined so much of who we are.

These—our—experiences are not unique. But they are the struggles that led us both to this fight of our lives—the mission that we share for all work and care to be visible, valued, and protected. And the belief that all people in this country should be able to give and receive care, while feeling they do not have to carry the burden alone, and are not discarded.

After all, what is more fundamental than the ability to choose to have a family, and the ability to take care of one if you do? Care needs are some of the biggest sources of financial and emotional stress for American women, and it impacts every single one of us. The price tags are often bigger than the costs of college, transportation, grocery bills combined—and the choices that some people have to make to afford it devastating. We are proud that the Biden-Harris Administration is taking this crisis seriously, and doing something truly historic about it.

The White House has declared April a Month of Action to recognize care work, launching new efforts to make care more affordable and taking part in events all month—including today when the President joins the Care Can’t Wait Coalition at a monumental rally. He’ll be speaking alongside caregivers, care workers and parents—one of whom is Tiffany Mrotek, who featured in Glamour’s 28 Days in the Lives of Women Postpartum project. But it’s not the first nor last action to make history this term. President Biden and Vice President Harris have issued the most comprehensive executive order on care, ever. They’ve announced the strongest budget proposals for paid leave, child, aging, and disability care, ever. They’ve included these policy pillars in their economic agenda and landmark legislative frameworks, and fought for Congress to prioritize them. And they’ve committed, and recommitted, to passing them into law.

As it stands now, care can’t wait—our country is dangerously behind. We are one of the only countries in the world without any form of federal paid leave. Families lose tens of billions every year as a result, and one in four women have returned to work within two weeks of giving birth. Child care costs more than college tuition in most states and more than half of American families live in communities without child care infrastructure. Over half a million older adults and people with disabilities languish on waiting lists for Medicaid-funded home and community-based care, with wait times up to a decade. This will boil over as Baby Boomers age and the sandwich generation, caring for multiple family members at once, grows.


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