There are, however, still reliable champions for home care workers in the U.S. Senate who recognize the gravity of the moment we are in.
“Our nation is deep in a caregiving crisis for both families and care workers themselves,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a working mother living with a disability. “I’m one of the lucky ones, but for far too many families that’s not a possibility, that’s why we must invest in home and community based services and enact the Build Back Better Act to ensure that everyone can access these services. We made a promise to workers and seniors, and I’m going to work to make sure we keep that promise.”
Making bold investments in care through the Build Back Better Act would allow more aging and disabled Americans to stay in their homes rather than having to move into expensive and potentially dangerous for-profit nursing homes. The plan would also allow home care workers the ability to bargain collectively to improve wages and benefits.
Home care workers currently earn on average just under $17,000 a year and one in six live below the poverty line. Increasing wages for these workers would have a positive impact on racial and gender wealth inequality, as over 90 percent of U.S. home care workers are women, more than half are women of color, and 31 percent are immigrants.
Biden’s Build Back Better Act could be fully paid for through increasing taxes on billionaires and other wealthy Americans and large corporations. But with a handful of conservative Democrats balking at the overall price tag, negotiations are stalling. Care workers, for their part, will never stall. They will continue to provide critical, life-affirming services amid a global pandemic, all while continuing to advocate for dignified working conditions.
“To block this legislation means ignoring the needs of citizens,” said Lynn Widener, a care worker in Pennsylvania. “Care cannot wait. Care is essential and so are we.”