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Care Infrastructure Should Include Friends, Family, and Neighbors—Not Only Consist of Them

As the country battles with whether or not to include paid family leave in its trillion-dollar spending bill, families across the nation are struggling to main a care infrastructure that is not sustainable. Paid family leave is important in the time after childbirth and adoption, but the care needed after those first months is also a network that needs investment. 

Caregiving takes a village. Not just when our kids are small, but throughout our entire lives. Young kids need care. Older kids need a different type of care. And when they no longer require it, often our aging family members need the care and attention directed towards them. It’s a cycle as old as time. Humans are social beings and taking care of each other is a part of our makeup. 

But employers often fail to realize the power they have in building and supporting the care infrastructure needed for working families. Friends, family, and neighbors are important resources in our care networks, but they aren’t the sole providers we should rely on. Having employers who support our care networks —beyond just words, is crucial in ensuring your employees and their families have the resources they need for a fulfilled and sustainable work-life. 

Building out a care network supports working in many different areas. Supporting them verbally is the first step, but beyond cheering them on from the sidelines, business leaders must see their responsibility in supporting the working families they employ. 

The Current Care Infrastructure 

The current care infrastructure is a network of caregivers, facilities, companies, and government programs that allow people to access the care they need. As it currently exists, it’s convoluted, confusing, and leaves much (if not all) of the responsibility on the average American family.

As it currently exists, parents are alone when it comes to searching, vetting, and providing care for children and aging adults. Unlike secondary education, which has a network of support and subsidized funding, child care opportunities are solely placed on working families. Not only is the financial burden on them, but they also have to search for available care (many facilities have long waitlists), and affordable options (many daycare centers can run upwards of $1000/mo for full-time care). 

If parents and care seekers can’t afford this financial burden, they’re often forced to turn to their friends, family, and neighbor (FFN) network. When their FFN network is the only source of care, it’s hard to manage and nearly impossible to sustain. Especially when FFN networks aren’t receiving any money for the care they’re providing. 

The solution isn’t just offering higher wages for employees that afford them childcare facilities. Offering care stipends has and subsidies for your employees has shown to improve employee morale, retain working parents, and help build a sustainable care infrastructure for individual families. 

Supporting the Care Infrastructure

When the care infrastructure fails for families they’re left with few options. Back-up care is often sought after in FFN networks, and when they aren’t available, then working families have to juggle their work responsibilities and deliverables while caring for their children. 

Employers have a unique opportunity to change the way care is provided in this country. While state and federal legislators battle policy, companies can make changes today to support working families. The power private companies have in supporting working parents is profound, and employers who understand their role in a caregiver’s village are more likely to retain their current workforce and recruit top candidates —even during a time of unprecedented resignation. 

If you don’t currently have a care benefit for your staff, consider implementing one. Companies like Helpr can support the transition and help you implement a care benefit that is easy and quick for employees to use. Some tools that Helpr offers include: 

  • Provider searches and databases, with vetted caregivers both for consistent care and emergency care. 
  • Family matches to caregivers who align with their philosophies, schedules, and budgets.
  • Care benefit disbursements, we can use your subsidies to pay for caregivers, including child care facilities, private nannies, and even friends and families. 

Working parents are at a crossroads. Regular care infrastructure isn’t sustainable as-is. Offering a care benefit can help working families both organize their current care systems and offer backup care when their FFN networks aren’t available. 

If you’re interested in a demo, contact us today