Valuing Care and Caregiving for All
Care is essential to leading a healthy life. We all need care at some point, whether as a child, in old age or if we’re sick. Most of us will also care for someone else. But our nation’s policies, systems and structures don’t value care appropriately.
For many families, childcare is inaccessible, unaffordable or doesn’t meet their schedule needs. The COVID-19 pandemic brought widespread closures of childcare centers, on top of availability that was already declining. The system is bad for workers, too. Most care providers are women, and roughly 40% are women of color. The median wage for a childcare worker is under $12 an hour, but Black and Latina women make significantly less than white women. Only 15% of childcare workers get health insurance from their job. The combination of high costs of care and low pay for care work puts these workers in a particular bind if they need to access care for their own families.
These challenges extend to all parts of our caregiving system. Too many people lack paid leave from their jobs that they can use to care for a family member or for the birth of a child. Home health care and elder care are too expensive for many families, and at the same time, don’t pay workers enough to make ends meet.
Our systems are broken and there is still no consensus in Congress on how to move forward. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) wanted to ensure that building systems of care that work for everyone — families and care workers — was prominent in policy discussions in fall 2021.
Recognizing the urgency of the moment and the necessity of keeping the issue front and center as Congress discussed a way forward, Burness worked with RWJF to host a live online conversation on the value of care and caregiving. The goals were to: 1) explain how care and caregiving are a fundamental part of helping children and families thrive; 2) contribute to efforts to elevate care work in the context of pandemic recovery; and 3) demonstrate RWJF’s growing commitment to caregiving as it relates to overall health.
We hosted the conversation on EveryFamilyForward.org, a website Burness created that is centered on elevating the lived experiences of families and caregivers, along with the children they care for. The conversation was also natively hosted on LinkedIn Live to target policy staff and advocates.
The conversation featured Rich Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO, and Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and co-founder and director of Caring Across Generations. Burness managed all aspects of the event and promoted the event in the following ways:
- Through existing organic channels including email lists, RWJF Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, staff outreach and through EveryFamilyForward.org and RWJF.org.
- Reaching out to target policy staff and media who have been covering issues related to care, caregiving and pandemic recovery.
- Providing grantees and partners with a toolkit to help them spread the word to their networks as well.
- Targeting paid social advertising efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn to drive event registrations on the site and for the LinkedIn Live event.
Results & Impact
Rich Besser and Ai-jen Poo had a lively, substantive conversation about the challenges our care systems face and how they could be reshaped to better support both workers and families. As Ai-jen Poo put it at one point in the conversation: “The care crisis isn’t a crisis of personal failures. It’s a crisis of our society failing to invest in the systems and the programs that support families and support caregivers.”
Roughly 400 people registered to attend the event, and between the website and the LinkedIn Live stream, we had over 200 viewers at peak. Participants from each of the Foundation’s target audience groups — policy, media, academia, advocacy and health — attended the event.
The audience was engaged: the average watch time was 38 minutes out of 60, and nearly 30 people submitted comments or questions during the live discussion. The recording of the conversation has been viewed over 500 times. Paid social prior to the event was effective as well, reaching 325,000 people and generating 1.6 million impressions. A paid campaign after the event, sharing highlights from the conversation, generated 299,000 impressions. This conversation is the first in a planned series in 2022, giving RWJF a solid audience base from which to grow.