November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to honor all family caregivers and recognize the solutions needed to support those who provide care to loved ones. At some point in all of our lives, it is likely that we will experience caring for a loved one, or needing to be cared for. In light of the pandemic, which has completely upended many of our relationships to work and care, universal protections like paid family and medical leave and paid sick time are especially critical.
The toll COVID has taken on our families and communities over the past year and a half cannot be understated. Recent CDC data reveals that more than 140,000 children in the United States have lost primary or secondary caregivers due to the pandemic, with the majority of those affected being people of color. It is clear that the devastating impact of this crisis will have long-term effects on caregiving dynamics, compounding just how crucial it is to ensure that workers can access paid family and medical leave and paid sick time that allows them to care for any of their closest loved ones, regardless of biological or legal relationship.
We have long recognized the importance of inclusive family definitions in strong paid leave policies, and have collaborated with local, state, and federal campaigns to ensure that the policies we help pass go beyond a one-size-fits-all definition of family. For LGBTQ people, intergenerational caregivers, and those with blended or chosen families, the ability to access and benefit from paid leave policies may depend upon which caregiving relationships are recognized in the law or policy; without the ability to access paid leave to care for their loved ones, many workers have no choice but to sacrifice their economic security. Inclusive family definitions also promote greater autonomy and justice for our aging population and people with disabilities, by ensuring more individuals can receive care on their own terms when they need it most.
This November, we hope you’ll join us in continuing to advance justice for all caregivers by fighting for robust, inclusive paid leave for all, so that nobody is forced to choose between their paycheck and caring for those closest to them.