On March 31st, President Joseph R. Biden announced the first part of his infrastructure plan as this country continues to respond to an unprecedented dual economic and public health crisis. A Better Balance applauds the president’s recognition of the weight that working families and caregivers have carried since even before the pandemic and profound commitment to building the infrastructure we need to support care throughout our country and our economy.
Among other important provisions, the president’s proposed plan would provide $400 billion to support home and community-based services for those in need of long-term care, including seniors and people with disabilities. These funds represent an urgently needed investment in supporting families and caregivers, while providing high-quality jobs for care workers. As the president noted, “[f]or too long, caregivers — who are disproportionately women, and women of color, and immigrants — have been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued.” The president’s proposal would take important steps forward in filling that gap.
As the president has long recognized and championed, paid family and medical leave is an essential part of the care infrastructure this country needs to empower workers to care for themselves and their loved ones when they need it most without risking their jobs or their paychecks. It responds directly to the needs the president outlined in this speech, like the pressures faced by “sandwich generation” caregivers balancing caring for children and older loved ones. And in the face of overlapping crises, paid family and medical leave is both a powerful health intervention to respond to the pandemic and an essential tool for jumpstarting our economy while investing in labor force attachment, particularly for women disproportionately affected by the “she-cession.” A Better Balance looks forward to continuing to work with the administration and with Congress to make the paid family and medical leave a reality for all Americans.