On June 18th mothers and other unwaged caregivers are joining with other poor, unwaged and low-waged workers and people of conscience to take part in the giant Poor People’s Campaign Mass Assembly in Washington, DC. Women and children make up 70% of impoverished people in the US. Though we are workers putting in long hours raising children and caring for family members, this work is often left out of what’s counted, as are the workers who do it. When we do caregiving work as our waged jobs, eg in childcare, nursing and other jobs often done by women, this work is often undervalued and underpaid; counting the skills and labor involved is an important tool in our fight for pay equity. We also do unwaged work on the land, for the environment and community volunteer work, often on top of other low-waged and unwaged jobs. The amount all our unwaged and underpaid labor produces, and the value it all adds to the economy, is largely hidden. We come to DC to press for change!
Our multiracial Care Income Now contingent is coming to DC to lift up the voices and concerns of caregivers from across the US. We’re part of a caravan traveling to DC from Baltimore where we’re participating in the National Welfare Rights Union’s 50th Anniversary conference June 15-16. Our contingent includes representatives of organizations working together for desperately-needed changes to address poverty in the following areas:
- Restore the Child Tax Credit. Since this monthly payment to families with children ended in December, at least 2.7 million children in the US have been thrown back into poverty, and food insecurity has again increased. We urge that the Child Tax Credit, which was proven to be successful, be made permanent and paid to the mother or other primary caregiver. Children need it, mothers have earned it.
- Increase welfare and recognize it as a wage for the work of raising a family. In Pennsylvania a mother with two children receives only $403/month, an amount that hasn’t been raised since 1990. The US and Turkey are the only industrialized countries that don’t provide families who have children with a regular family benefit.
- Concerning the child welfare or child protective services system, government agencies need to provide services and resources, as opposed to separating children from families who love them because mothers/other caregivers are poor or victims of domestic violence. Funds saved from paying for unneeded foster care could be used.
- Invest in caring not killing. The US has mobilized billions of dollars and weapons for the war in Ukraine, but says there’s no money to help families survive the current economic crisis. Support those refusing to kill.
- Stop criminalizing poverty, for example by decriminalizing sex work.
- Address the climate crisis. Hear from subsistence farmers working to restore the soil so that it absorbs carbon and continues to provide nutrients that sustain us.
- Provide a Care Income to all people who are caring for people and the planet. The call for a Care Income, which was put forward in the Green New Deal for Europe, has become a global call by caregivers in both the Global South and North.