07.01.21

Congresswoman Lee, Speaker Pelosi, Assistant Speaker Clark, Democratic Women’s Caucus Statement on Care Economy

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-05), House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-02), DWC Co-Chairs Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-22), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Vice Chair Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and care advocates held a press event on the care economy, which you may view here.

At a time when women’s workforce participation is at its lowest since the 1980s, families are facing financial uncertainty and are struggling to find affordable care for their children and aging family members. Investing in the care economy will help parents and caregivers go back to work, create good-paying jobs, raise wages, boost lifetime earnings, support small businesses, and grow our economy for women and all families across the country.

DWC Members and care advocates in attendance provided the following statements:

“For too long, caregivers, who are largely women and women of color, have been underpaid and underappreciated,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “It is deeply unjust that caregivers, while providing critical child and elder care, remain among the lowest paid workers in our country. I am proud to join my House colleagues today in calling for significant investments to ensure fair wages and treatment of our nation’s caregivers as well as high quality services for those who rely on them. I look forward to continue working alongside the Biden Administration to build back bolder from this crisis.”

“As our nation rebounds from this crisis, we must Build Back Better with women and families, so that we can have children learning and parents earning,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “With bold, overdue investments in our care economy, President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ American Families Plan will help lift millions out of poverty, return parents to the workforce and be an effective stimulus for our economy.  As we advance this transformative legislation, the Democratic Women’s Caucus and advocates across the nation will continue to be indispensable in the fight for progress and equality for women – because when women succeed, America succeeds.”

“Without care and paid leave, parents, and especially moms, can’t succeed in the job market. This holds back our economy and furthers inequity in America,” said Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. “We can’t afford not to invest in the care economy. In fact, for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education, we gain $7.30 in economic returns over the long-term. This is how we recover from the pandemic and build an economy that truly works for everyone.”

“We have a real opportunity to build the architecture for the future and use this as a moment to lift up all children and families so that every person, no matter their background, has the opportunity to contribute and succeed,” said House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro. “Now is the time to secure a lifeline for families that is long overdue and invest in programs, such as the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit, affordable child care for all, comprehensive and immediate paid family and medical leave, and not leave millions of working families in the cold again. Creating a strong care infrastructure is vital for our economy and the country’s future.”

“We’re here to ask America ‘Do we care?’ Do we care that two million women have left the workforce and we have the lowest workforce participation of women since 1988? Do we care that only one in five workers has paid family leave, child care workers make only $11 an hour, and half of our families live in child care deserts? Do we care that more than 700,000 Americans are on Medicaid wait lists for home care and home care workers are forced to rely on public assistance?” said DWC Co-Chair Congresswoman Jackie Speier.“Ninety percent of hard infrastructure jobs are held by men. A hard infrastructure package is a jobs bill for men only. If we don’t invest in our care economy this she-cession will end up in a he-covery.” 

“It is undeniable that child and home care are vital backbones of our economy and they have become out of reach for people who need to go to work every day. And what’s really disturbing is the pitifully low wages we pay the care workers, the overwhelming number of whom are women of color,” said DWC Co-Chair Congresswoman Lois Frankel. “So our message today is: when those sleek new trains leave the station, the women and children cannot be left behind.”

“Women have shouldered the burden of this pandemic, and it’s even worse for women of color. Women’s labor force participation is at the lowest it’s been since December of 1988. That should be a red alarm for all of us,” said DWC Co-Chair Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence. “As the Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, I’ve been fighting for the American Families Plan to ensure that Americans across the country have access to child care, education, paid leave, and so much more. This isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a family’s issue. As we build back better, we must build back better with women front and center.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in Texas and across the nation,” said DWC Vice Chair Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. “My DWC colleagues and I understand that infrastructure is not just roads and bridges; it is also the care infrastructure that includes childcare which addresses the needs of women and families and enables our society to function. Future infrastructure packages must include this critical component and the women of the 117th Congress are fighting to make this a reality.” 

“To be able to return to work and help bolster our economic recovery, Americans must be able to afford the quality care they need to support their families,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40). “Investing in our Care Economy will continue that mission by supporting our long-undervalued caregivers and making child, senior, and other types of care more affordable for working families. I thank my colleagues for their hard work pursuing a stronger Care Economy and I look forward to working with them and the Biden Administration to provide caregivers and families with the resources they need to ensure the care and safety of their loved ones.”

“I’m proud to join my colleagues today in demanding that as part of building this country back better, we make the overdue and critical investments in the care economy so America’s working families can rest easier knowing that the government has their backs,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-07). “Without the heavily women- and minority-driven care economy, our country would be devastated. We must recognize and invest in policies like universal childcare and paid family leave that reward this hard work for the value that it contributes to our society.” 

“The home care workforce is 87% women and 62% people of color. We know that it’s Black women, along with women of all backgrounds, who are doing the vast majority of this country’s care work,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). “And all too often they’re working for poverty wages and without a voice on the job. Investing in the care economy through the American Jobs Plan will transform the lives of Black women across the country and finally recognize the hard work Black women have done for generations. With the American Jobs Plan, we have a once in a generation opportunity to begin to reverse centuries of systemic racism and sexism by making a down payment on building a broad, diverse middle class. We cannot let this moment slip away.”

“Last week, I spoke to Bay Area moms about how much affordable childcare and the Child Tax Credit means to them and their families,” said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). “I remember how tough it can be living paycheck-to-paycheck. Congress needs to act now to invest in the care economy to help get Americans back to work and create good-paying jobs.”

“We must start paying a livable wage to those who care for us. President Biden’s call for investments in this vital care infrastructure is transformative and long overdue,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09). “When the wages and benefits are better, people will be willing to work in this field, thus decreasing the workforce shortage. It will also ensure that fewer people leave the workforce to provide care for someone simply because there are not enough caregivers available, while also helping families who provide care for a loved one.”

“This past year has the potential of erasing years of progress in the march toward economic equality because of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women, and especially women of color,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04). “We need transformational, structural investments in our child care infrastructure, a $15 minimum wage, and expanded paid leave. We must do all we can to boost the care economy and ensure women aren’t set back a generation.”

“We need to invest in the care economy to build back better, create an equitable economic recovery, and uplift women and families. I was so proud to join my colleagues today in calling for these crucial investments,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04).

“As we bounce back from COVID-19 and get the economy back on track and people back into jobs, it is clear that we cannot reach our full potential without addressing our care economy,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-14). “We cannot have all parents back in the workforce unless we do a better job with high quality preschool for kids. We need to increase access to transportation and affordable housing to really maintain the quality of life for older people. This is going to be a significant challenge, but Democratic women understand the needs of our neighbors and are working alongside President Biden to pass the American Families Plan. This strategic plan to build a new workforce of caregivers, whether they're professional caregivers or the family caregivers, and provide world-class child care to our nation's children will better the lives of all Americans.”

“Our country's care economy is made up of thousands of selfless individuals who support our most vulnerable and marginalized populations. These workers, who are overwhelmingly women and people of color, have for decades been in diligent service supporting the lives of American families,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-09). “We must provide whatever resources necessary to ensure they can continue their invaluable work, full stop. We must also ensure they are afforded a decent, livable wage. I am so proud to join my colleagues in the Democratic Women’s Caucus in celebrating and commemorating their tireless efforts. We see you, we hear you, and we will never forget you.”

“Parents and caregivers cannot go back to work, grow our economy and build better lives for their families unless they know their children, parents, and loved ones are safe and cared for,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-13). “Investing in caregiving will help get Americans back to work, create good-paying jobs, raise wages, boost lifetime earnings, support small businesses, and grow our economy for all Americans. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of making crucial investments in the care economy.”

“The COVID-19 Pandemic has shined a light on the impossible situation facing far too many Americans: caring for a loved one or going to work. This shouldn’t be an either-or proposition,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03). “That is why House Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to investing in childcare, eldercare, and our #CareEconomy. By doing so, we will help more parents and caregivers get back to work, create good-paying jobs, raise wages, support small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, and ensure we continue to Build Back Better.”

“We are emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic with the resilience that is emblematic of the American spirit,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26). “As we navigate through the economic challenges of the pandemic and rebuild our economy, we must work to advance transformative proposals that support women, who disproportionately faced the worst impacts of the pandemic. We must invest in the Care Economy and eliminate barriers for women reentering the workforce by investing in childcare, elder care, and long-term care programs. Parents and caregivers, who are primarily women, cannot go back to work, grow our economy, and build better lives for their families unless they know their children, parents, and loved ones are safe and cared for. Our success as a country is dependent on ensuring the success of women and their families.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of investing in our caregiving economy,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17). “As we work to build back better, our caregivers must be an integral part of our recovery. From child care to the elderly, caregivers are helping our economy grow, letting folks get back to work, and allowing businesses to keep creating good-paying jobs. I’m proud to join my colleagues today to highlight the meaningful impact reliable services would have in our communities as we work to bolster support.”

“COVID-19 has pulled the curtain back on what we have long known to be true: a lack of access to affordable, high-quality care disproportionately forces women out of the workforce,” said Congresswoman Ann Kuster (NH-02). “I was proud to join my Democratic Women’s Caucus colleagues today in advocating for the care economy, and I will continue working to ensure we expand access to child and elder care and ensure no family has to go at it alone as we recover from this health and economic crisis.”

“Families and especially frontline workers have relied heavily on child care providers since the start of this pandemic,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02). “However, even after the pandemic ends and everyone is back to school and work, we will still need the crucial support offered by our child care providers nationwide. We need increased investments to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable child care and paid leave. Investing in our care economy now will increase labor force participation and boost our economic growth.”

“Throughout history, the American people have shown their ability to come out of any crisis stronger than before. That is the opportunity that presents itself again.The American people are struggling right now but we have the chance to come together to build an America that is stronger and fairer with economic justice for all,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12). “As we recover from the losses of the last year, we have an opportunity to advance transformational legislation that lets American workers and families thrive. We need to pass the American Families Plan to help put a floor beneath which we won’t allow any family to fall and every Dollar we invest NOW is worth a fortune in savings LATER. This work needs to get done. The longer we put it off, the more it will cost our children and grandchildren.”

“Delaware families have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many parents and caregivers are now facing challenges re-entering the workforce again due to a lack of childcare or access to paid leave. Throughout this month, I’ve visited with Delaware caregivers and small businesses to learn more about their challenges and talk about the resources I’m working to bring back from Washington,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE). “I’ve been proud of the federal support that House Democrats have delivered so far, including the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan which invested over $100 million in childcare in Delaware. And while we’ve already done a great deal to stabilize the economy, we know we must do more in order to build back better. The Biden-Harris Administration’s American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan will invest in the care economy to help parents and caregivers in Delaware get back to work, grow our economy, and build better lives.”

“The care economy is the American economy. We all have those who need care—children, elderly relatives, disabled family members, and more. We know that when American families prosper, America prospers,” said Congresswoman Val Butler Demings (FL-10). “The expanded child tax credit that we passed in the American Rescue Plan is hitting bank accounts starting this month. It will reduce child poverty in America by over half. We can’t simply allow it to expire after this year. Further, care workers who care for our children, seniors, and disabled relatives are essential workers, and we should treat them that way. These should be careers with dignity and respect, and every American should be able to afford the care they need to support their family. Our economy should have a pathway for every American to succeed if they work hard and play by the rules. By investing in our care economy, we can create a nation with broad opportunity and pathways to prosperity for all.”

“If you want to rebuild the American economy, then you simply must be investing in families,” said Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06). “Child care is a jobs issue. Paid family leave is a jobs issue. Elder care is a jobs issue. If we want an America where every parent and child can thrive, then we have to lower the barriers that have created a false and unfair choice between building a career and building or caring for family. My message today to all working parents is that I see you, and I’m going to do everything I can to help rebuild an economy that works for you.”

“Across the country, Americans of all ages are doing the hard work of caring for their children, of caring for their parents, and of caring for their families,” said Congresswoman Lucy McBath (GA-06). “We must do all we can to care for those who care for others, and I am proud to join the Democratic Women’s Caucus as we fight in invest in caregiving, create good-paying jobs, and build better lives for our families and our children.”

“The COVID crisis caused a she-cession that has jeopardized decades of progress for women in the workforce,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (VA-10). “Together with the Biden-Harris administration, we're going to make bold investments in child care, paid leave, and elder care to help every working parent in Virginia get back on the job and ensure their families are cared for. The only way we'll have a full and equitable recovery from COVID is if our care economy comes back strong.”

“Since before I came to Congress, I have been saying that investing in our care economy is key to not only building back better from this pandemic, but building back equitably,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (CA-53). “I am proud to join Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman DeLauro, and the Democratic Women’s Caucus to make sure the care economy is included in our infrastructure priorities. We must invest in our families and in care providers, the majority of whom are women. If we don’t, we will have a recovery that leaves women out.”

“The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the deep inequalities in our care economy,” said Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02). “There is an urgent need to invest in childcare and education here in North Carolina. We need to do far more to support our young people as they pursue their educational goals. We need to provide more help to parents and caregivers so that they can return to the workforce. And we need to give every breadwinner the assurance that their loved ones are safe and receiving excellent care when they head off to work in the morning. I thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman DeLauro, and the care economy advocates gathering with us today for their outstanding leadership as we fight for these crucial investments in our children, our families, and our economy.”

“Care infrastructure keeps the entire economy running because families can’t go to work if their loved ones aren’t safe and cared for,” said Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05). “Investing in care infrastructure now will help the country build back better after the pandemic. Everything that we think of as traditional infrastructure was once innovative and we don't have time to play political games arguing over the definition of infrastructure.”

“Caregivers are the engines and heart of our economy – from childcare to eldercare and other in-home and community-based services, caregivers care for and support our families in all ways,” said Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury (NM-01). “Yet caregivers – who are largely women and women of color– are overwhelmingly underpaid and overworked and have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This reality contrasts starkly with our values. We must take urgent steps to significantly invest in our caregiver economy and workforce which is essential in every sense of the word. Our care economy is part of the fabric and infrastructure that sustains our country, and we must pass legislation out of Congress that reflects this reality.”              

“As we build toward a better future following the pandemic, this is our moment to invest in a world-class, equitable child care system that works for children, parents, and early childhood professionals alike,” said Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer at ZERO TO THREE. “Child care and the Child Tax Credit are infrastructure, and it’s time we start acting like it. I’m honored to join the Democratic Women’s Caucus to push for policies that set our babies up for success and treat our child care workers with the respect and dignity they deserve. Families and caregivers carried our nation through this past year, and we must come together to make them a priority today.”

“Paid leave checks all the boxes – economic security, healthcare, racial equity, and gender equity – and meets the needs of every American. It gives families time off work without penalty; allows people to attend doctor’s appointments or care for the needs of their loved ones; provides time off for people of color who have been historically excluded from higher-wage jobs with benefits; and keeps women at work and in the labor force, without sacrificing their caregiving responsibilities or their own health and encourages men to do the same,” said Debra Ness, President of National Partnership for Women & Families. “More than 110 million working people in this country lack paid leave. Without it, families will continue to lose income, women’s careers and economic security will suffer, businesses will lose valued employees, and the health of women and their families will suffer.” 

“The pandemic has clearly shown that caregiving is the backbone of our economy. That’s why our nation needs a comprehensive federal policy that assures paid family and medical leave for all workers—including those who earn low wages—and a substantial, ongoing investment to make child care dependable and accessible for all families and sustainable for those who provide it,” said Stephanie Schmit, Director of Child Care and Early Education for the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “Our country will not succeed in achieving an equitable recovery unless we address the problems inherent in women’s employment, particularly for women of color and those who work in jobs paying low wages.”

“America’s moms and families are counting on Congress to support the kind of care economy we need for a just recovery and a successful future in which all our families have a real chance to thrive,” said Ruth Martin, Senior Vice President and Chief Workplace Justice Officer for MomsRising. “We need a care infrastructure that includes paid leave for all, universal child care, a permanent expanded Child Tax Credit and a fair tax code, living wages, access to home- and community-based services for people with disabilities and the aging, and a path to citizenship for all essential and care workers, Dreamers, and TPS holders – and we need it now.”

“In the next decade, caregiving jobs will represent the fastest-growing workforce in the American economy, and we’ll have more aging people in this country than we’ve ever had. Still, we don’t have the protections needed to allow care workers, disproportionately brown and Black women, to earn living wages or the infrastructure that would enable families to afford care for their loved ones,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, Civic Engagement Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Executive Director of Care in Action. “Women hold most of the caregiving jobs and caregiving responsibilities in their families, and they shouldn’t hold that responsibility alone. It’s clear that investing in a care economy – one that expands access to the services needed for families to work and age with dignity and that will create good jobs with good pay – is not only the best path toward recovery, it’s also a just and equitable one to ensure we grow our economy while putting American families first.”

“As the peak of pandemic recedes across much of the country, we are at risk of returning to the broken status quo that failed care workers and the families that rely upon them,” said Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). “Home-based service providers, long-term care providers, and child care providers are the backbone of our entire economy, and they deserve a plan that truly values the vital services they provide. We thank Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Women’s Caucus for centering this essential workforce and continuing to fight for an equitable and accessible care economy.”

“We have an opportunity and a responsibility to do something transformational for working families. Passing paid leave and other care policies would yield millions of jobs, billions in wages, and trillions in GDP,” said Dawn Huckelbridge, Director of Paid Leave for All. “Paid leave is an issue of public health, economic security and growth, and equity—and will make us more resilient and prepared. Investing in care infrastructure is the common-sense solution and a profound legacy we can leave after the year that we’ve had.”

“Our economy runs on care; it's what makes all other work possible. Right now, we have a unique opportunity to truly build back better by writing new rules to create an economy that works for all of us, get seniors and people with disabilities the home and community-based care services they urgently need, and get people across America back to work,” said Becky Wasserman, Director for Government Affairs of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “To get there, we need a bold investment in the Black, Latina, Asian, white, indigenous, and immigrant women who have long cared for our nation, but have been held down by low wages and denied a seat at the table. When we lift up home care workers, we will lift up our entire economy.”