On February 28, 2023, the Care Can’t Wait Coalition hosted a Day of Action on Columbus Circle. The coalition advocates for the trifecta of aging and disability care, paid leave, and childcare and is promoting the Child Care for Working Families Act and the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Day of Action featured several different speakers, including Ai-Jen Poo (Co-Director of Caring Across Generations), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Jen Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and many more. All speakers shared the same sentiment of carrying forth the “unfinished business” of creating paid leave for workers, expanding affordable childcare, and advancing aging and disability care. Investment in the care workforce was highlighted as a vital need because it makes all other work possible. Caregiving is work.
One of the most powerful quotes of the event was referenced in the speech of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT): “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped” (Hubert Humphrey). This is the government’s responsibility to its people and why the coalition exists today. DeLauro referenced it as her “north star” for working on policies that improve the lives of children and families. Care is at the center of our families, communities, and economy.
Powerful testimony by Lynn Weidner, a caregiver and member of the Service Employees International Union of Pennsylvania, and Brandon Kingsmore, a consumer and client of Weidner’s, emphasized the necessity of in-home care for consumers. Weidner has given testimony at countless events and was adamant on the fact that care can’t wait, the rally theme.
Representative Jimmy Gomez of California, founder of the Congressional Dads Caucus, recited his experience struggling to find care. He brought his child onto the House floor during the speaker vote and went viral on the internet for being a dedicated father. Gomez acknowledged that this experience first and foremost showed him that fathers are not doing enough when it comes to childcare, and secondly, how strict gender roles are playing into our economy and women leaving the workforce to care for children. The Representative understood if a mother were to bring a child to work, she would be ridiculed, and he stated we must eliminate the idea of a “default parent” and admit the burden falls on all of us.
Speakers continued to add personal experiences and discuss the importance of childcare, paid leave, and in-home care for older persons and people with disabilities for almost two hours. In the words of Senator Wyden, these factors are the “trifecta” that would guarantee the U.S. is competitive with other developed countries in ensuring dignity for its people. This is an investment with high returns, and on the thirtieth anniversary of the passage of FMLA, there is still much to be done.
By Erin Weiss and Maya Benysh, Policy Interns