Is "care" having a moment or a movement?

This is the final installment in our series on the White House Summit on Working Families, which The Women’s Foundation attended earlier this summer.  Be sure to read the other posts in our series.

As a foundation focused on economic security work, “care” is both a central and pervasive challenge – and an opportunity to influence the trajectory of multiple generations. Child care allows parents to work, or to complete the education and training necessary to find a good job. But quality early care and education is expensive, and not always accessible – in terms of location, or the hours that may or may not match up with a worker’s schedule. Quality also comes at a cost: “In 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college.” That said, quality early care and education provides critical early learning opportunities, and helps prepare children for kindergarten and beyond. For low-income children in particular, early learning can help close the “readiness gap” that influences educational attainment and economic security in the long-term.

As a women’s foundation, these issues are even more central. Women make up a large percentage of the care workforce (in the child care and early learning space, but also home care and eldercare workers). These professions are low paying. Look at the formal child care workforce alone, and you’ll see that women make up nearly 95% of the workforce. Those jobs are also some of the lowest paying in the US: of the 823 occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 24 professions earn less than child care workers. Looking beyond the formal care workforce, women are also largely informally impacted by the “sandwich generation,” no matter their profession – that is, they are taking on the responsibility of caring for children and aging parents simultaneously. This has a tremendous impact on work/life balance, employment opportunities, and earning potential.

The White House Summit on Working Families featured a panel discussion on caregiving. A few highlights from the conversation…

  • On quality early care and education: In decisions about child care, quality is not always the driver of parent choice. Other factors could be cost, convenience, or the comfort of knowing a family member or neighbor. In practice and in policy, we have to find ways to get beyond the amorphous “quality” concept that may or may not resonate with parents.
  • On economic security: As Gail Hunt, CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, pointed out, the burden of balancing work and family has a long-term impact on economic security. Seventy-five percent of people with caregiving responsibilities are also working; two-thirds of those people find that they have to make some sort of workplace accommodation to allow them to handle their caregiving responsibilities. The resulting loss in wages, pension, and social security for each of these women: $325,000 over the period that the worker is also a caregiver.
  • On the case for employers:  David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, pointed out the impact of “caregiving stress” on workers. He makes the economic case to employers for workplace flexibility and balancing caregiving responsibilities:  caregiving stress cuts into worker productivity, and it impacts the cost of employer-sponsored healthcare. There’s an economic case for employers to be on board with changes in policy that influence this issue.

WhiteHouseSummit900

What was missing from the Summit conversation?

  • Robust discussion of improving pay for the caregiving workforce. It was only a question from the audience, at the end of the panel session, that sparked discussion around low pay. In response, Duffy Campbell of the National Women’s Law Center pointed to the need for policy solutions – that the market isn’t working for the workers who are parents/caregivers, or the workers who are caregiving providers. I only wish this was a more central piece of the discussion. Higher pay for this workforce would impact the economic security of this mostly-female workforce; it would also help translate to higher quality early care and education programs in the community.
  • Race. I was happy that gender was often discussed at the Summit, but overall, race was left out of the conversation. The same was true in the panel on caregiving – even though, for example, 16% of the child care workforce are African American and 19% are of Hispanic or Latino origin.
  • How issues of caregiving begin early. The Women’s Foundation invests in the economic security of women AND girls. When we planned our strategy for investing in girls , we repeatedly heard from providers and advocates the need to recognize the caregiving responsibilities that girls and young women were taking on at home, and the impact of those responsibilities on their education, afterschool options and workforce participation. When reliable care isn’t available for younger siblings, older girls in the family often step in. Solving caregiving challenges has the potential to impact multiple generations at once.

It certainly feels like care is having a moment in the spotlight – from the Summit, to national conversations about Pre-K access and media stories talking about the crisis of care. We can only hope this moment turns into a movement with real solutions for families.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

If you’re interested in care issues, check out more on The Women’s Foundation’s Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative. Interested in further reading? Check out the following resources:

 

Reflections on the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative

Editor’s Note: Fight For Children has been a part of the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative for the past four years. Skip McKoy, Fight for Children’s Director of Programmatic Initiatives, shares his reflections in this guest blog post.

Fight For Children, SkipAt the end of June, Fight For Children will transition off of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative to focus our attention on Joe’s Champs, our early childhood, school-based education program. We developed Joe’s Champs to provide principals, assistant principals, and teachers with professional development and mentorship opportunities focused specifically on students ages 3-4, a period sometimes overlooked by educators but vitally important to a child’s academic and social development. Without the extensive discussions with funders of the early childhood space—including those we met through the Collaborative—we would not be as confident in the success of Joe’s Champs as we are today.

When Fight For Children joined the Collaborative in 2010, we were primarily a grant-making organization.  The Collaborative provided us with an opportunity to engage with and learn from other local organizations interested in supporting early childhood development. As Fight For Children shifts from a grant-maker to an organization that designs and runs its own programs, the Collaborative remains a valuable resource for us, other local funders, and early childhood education leaders.

As I reflect back on our four years as a Collaborative member, I am grateful for the many opportunities and lessons learned. Here are a few that stand out to me:

  1. On the Collaborative, Fight For Children has had the opportunity to join forces with other organizations to leverage our impact on local children. For example, in 2013, as a member of the Collaborative we contributed to the support of ten early childhood education projects, in addition to the projects we support on our own.
  2. Fight For Children has a small staff that goes into the community throughout the year to research potential organizations with which to partner. Being part of the Collaborative exposed us to projects otherwise unfamiliar to us, given our limited resources.
  3. As a non-profit focused on children within DC City limits, Fight For Children staff do not readily have opportunities to learn about innovative approaches occurring elsewhere in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region. The Collaborative has facilitated our experiences with early childhood education and development projects outside of DC, which we were then able to reference during our development of Joe’s Champs.

Any of these reasons alone would be a powerful incentive for an early childhood funder to join the Collaborative. But, there is another value-add to being part of the Collaborative: the group of funders*represented at the table are all well-respected and thoughtful. They represent a cross-section of foundations and corporations dedicated to improving early childhood care and education in this region. Having different organizations bring to light the multiple sections of the proverbial early childhood education elephant provides a better sense of the big picture, allowing each of us to be more thoughtful change agents and resulting in an even greater, systemic impact.

* The Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative currently includes: The Boeing Company, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Fight for Children, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, PNC Foundation, Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and Weissberg Foundation.

VIDEO: Families are Transformed When We Stand With Women

We are so excited to announce the release of our new video from Stone Soup Films!  With your help, we are using strategic investments to create economic security for women and girls in the Washington region.

Great change is possible – when we make smart investments in our community.  Please share this inspiring new video with your networks!

Tweet this video

Share this video on Facebook

Maryland, Virginia Score Big in Early Education

state report cards“Exciting news about Maryland: not only did the state take the top spot in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2013 report, Maryland got especially high marks when it came to early care and education. Each year, the Quality Counts report card evaluates American education, assigning a grade and rank to each state and the District. “For 2013, the nation receives a C-plus when graded across the six distinct areas of policy and performance tracked by the report, marking a slight improvement since last year,” said Education Week.

This is the fifth year in a row that Maryland was named the top-ranked state. With an overall grade of B-plus (87.5), the state’s grades included an A (100) in early childhood education in the Transitions & Alignment category.

“Every year, there’s a challenge to sustain the big investment we’ve made in education,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley told The Washington Post. “But when you see the results and the greater numbers of kids graduating and taking AP courses and entering kindergarten ready to learn, those accomplishments make it a little easier to justify and defend the investment.”

Virginia ranked fourth in the country, with the overall grade B (82.9). The Commonwealth also received a score of 100 in early childhood education. DC ranked 45th, with an overall C-minus (71.5) and scored a B-minus (80) in early childhood education.

This news is particularly exciting for us at The Women’s Foundation because it further supports what we’ve long known: investments in early care and education (ECE) work. It’s telling that not only does Maryland score well in ECE, but the state received a high score (A-minus) in the college readiness category, too. By making sure that children have a high-quality educational foundation before they even begin elementary school, we’re setting them up to succeed beyond graduation.

In spite of these investments, access remains an issue. In our 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area, we pointed out that just 14 percent of four-year-olds in Virginia, 35 percent in Maryland, and 40 percent in the District were enrolled in publicly-funded preschools. We also reported that high-quality preschools can be prohibitively expensive, especially for low-income single women raising children.

An affordable, high-quality early education helps lift families out of poverty and creates a more successful workforce for our region. Now that states like Maryland and Virginia have succeeded in creating good ECE programs, we need to make sure that every family has the opportunity to take advantage of them.

You can learn more about our investments in ECE by clicking here.

Image credit: edweek.org

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

Baby Feet by gabi_menasheIn today’s rundown: Infant care in D.C. costs more than public college tuition. | A look at homeless services in the District after money earmarked for needy families was spent on a teen summer employment program. | Elena Kagan is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. | And, for the first time, a woman will head a major US intelligence agency.

— The annual cost of infant care in D.C. is about $11,500, according to a new report out this week.  That’s more than twice the cost of tuition at a public college.  Click here to find out what one organization says the city can do to help struggling parents.

The Washington Post takes a look at what Craigslist says they’re doing to keep ads for underage girls out of the website’s “adult services” section, and what’s actually going on in that section.  Last week FAIR Fund, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner, called Craigslist  the “Wal-mart of online sex trafficking.”

Washington City Paper takes a look at homeless services in the District after money for needy families was spent to make up for a shortfall in a summer employment program.  And DC Fiscal Policy Institute, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner, has a list of lessons that city leaders can take away from the Summer Youth Employment Program.

— Over the weekend, Elena Kagan was sworn in as the 112th justice of the Supreme Court. She’s the fourth woman to be named justice in the history of the high court.

— The first woman to head a major U.S. intelligence agency is being instated today.  Letitia A. Long will be the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  Click here for details.

Photo Credit: gabi_menashe via Creative Commons.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: Major changes to D.C.’s subsidized guardianship laws.  |  Emergency executive orders mean higher taxes, fees and fines in the District.  |  And the youth job market outlook just in time for the end of the school year.

— The Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center (FAPAC) is applauding members of the D.C. Council for passing the Adoption and Guardianship Subsidy Emergency and Temporary Amendment Acts of 2010.  The legislation expands guardianship and adoption subsidies until youths turn 21 and expands the definition of those eligible to apply to become subsidized guardians.  Before the legislation was passed that opportunity was open only to “kin or godparents.”  Now, foster parents or others who have a significant relationship with a child can become subsidized guardians.  This is particularly important to older youth in the foster care system.  FAPAC is a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

— D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has enacted emergency executive orders that increase taxes and fees on everything from business permits to traffic fines.  Fenty says the orders are “emergency” maneuvers to balance the budget and added that the increases would bring the city about $7 million this fiscal year and $21 million in the 2011 fiscal year which begins in October.  Click here for details.

— The job market may be getting better for teens and recent college graduates, but, according to experts, the improvements are coming so slowly that they may not see noticeable change until the fall.  Meanwhile, older workers continue to fill jobs that, traditionally, went to younger people.  Click here for more.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: Parents struggle to find child care for their children as subsidies fail to keep up with demand.  |  Prince George’s County teens get access to safe summer programs.  |  An ad campaign reminds local fathers to “take time to be a dad.”

— Federal subsidies for child care are failing to keep up with rising demand, leaving an increasing number of low-income families struggling to balance work and parenting.  Click here to read how this is effecting parents, particularly low-income, single women.

— Later today, teenagers in Prince George’s County will attend Youth Explosion, a program that promotes safe activities and helps teens find summer jobs.  The program is for kids between 12 and 18 and is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tabernacle Church in Laurel.

— Some local dads say they’re paying attention to parenting messages on bus shelter posters.  The posters say “Take time to be a dad today” and offer suggestions for activities parents and children can do together.  According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, one-third of kids in American grow up in a home without their biological fathers.  Click here to find out why some fathers say the ads are working.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: The D.C. Council passes emergency legislation to help foster families.  |  Why do women still earn less than men?  |  Remembering Dorothy Height and her fight for equality.

— According to the Washington Post, “the D.C. Council passed emergency legislation on Tuesday intended to make it easier for foster families to provide permanent homes for children, especially older ones, who often languish in the child welfare system.”  Click here to learn more about the subsidy that’s being extended to help foster families and children.

— Why do women still earn less than men? Time explored that question as we marked Equal Pay Day.  Click here for the answer.

— For civil rights leader Dorothy Height, equality went beyond skin color.  A day after her death, NBC4 takes a look at her remarkable life and her fight for equality for everyone.

Weekly Round-Up: News and Analysis on Women and Poverty (Week ending April 2, 2010)

Pregnant Woman_WSJThe latest news, analysis and opinion on the state of low-income women and their families from Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.  This week: Why extreme poverty can lead to pregnancy problems…. Plus, cuts could be made to a monthly stipend that former Florida foster children depend on.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a national foundation-led initiative, is excited to collaborate with The Women’s Foundation to bring you the latest news and analysis on women and poverty.  Spotlight is the go-to site for news and ideas about fighting poverty.

Here’s this week’s news:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that women facing difficult circumstances and stress, including extreme poverty, have a higher risk of problems during pregnancy.
  • The Los Angeles Times interviews several low-income immigrant women who miscarried or gave birth to children with birth defects, problems that they attribute to a nearby polluted dump in rural Kettlemen City.
  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel profiles 21-year-old student Tamarra Lestage.  Lestage would be homeless if not for a monthly stipend given to former foster children, a program which may be cut due to Florida’s budget crunch.
  • The Portland Press Herald highlights the opening of Florence House, a $7.9 million facility that will house 40 homeless women in apartments or semi-private bedrooms.
  • Seven months after being fired from the Hyatt in Boston, Lucine Williams and almost 60 other mostly female former housekeepers still struggle to find work, according to the Boston Globe.

For daily updates and links to past articles, check out “Women and Poverty.”  It’s a section of the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity site with a comprehensive collection of recent news and analysis on women and poverty.  Along with these daily updates, continue to visit Washington Area Women’s Foundation for our weekly rundown of the top news stories on women and poverty every Friday.  To learn more about Spotlight visit www.spotlightonpoverty.org.  To sign up for our weekly updates with the latest news, opinion and research from around the country, click here.

The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity Team

Photo credit: Stephen Maturen for the Wall Street Journal