It’s been exactly one year since I published an article in The Atlantic titled, “The Crisis Facing America’s Working Daughters,” and so I want to examine what has changed for family caregivers in that time.
Last year I wrote, “For America’s working daughters, there is little to help them navigate between their careers and the needs of their aging parents.” And I shared the fact that, “Working daughters often find they need to switch to a less demanding job, take time off, or quit work altogether in order to make time for their caregiving duties,” and those decisions typically result in, “loss of wages and …job-related benefits.”
Those statements are still true. In June, work-life expert Cali Yost reported on The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2016 Employee Benefits Survey. Her takeaway: “Employers are completely clueless when it comes to helping employees with elder care challenges.”
That’s a grim reality, however, there were some bright spots over the last 12 months. In September, Deloitte, one of the largest professional services firm in the world, announced the company would offer up to 16 weeks of fully paid family leave to eligible employees to support not just parenting, but eldercare, spousal care and other family issues too. And just this week, Facebook extended paid family leave to up to six weeks for employees to care for a sick relative and bereavement time off to up to 20 days for the death of an immediate family member and up to 10 for the death of an extended family member. This is progress.
One year ago I wrote, “American’s conversation about the competing demands of work and family needs to take working daughters into account.” This is happening. In November, Denise Brown of Caregiving.com sponsored the first National Caregiving Conference, shining a light on the needs of family caregivers. And more websites and consultants are cropping up all the time in support of working daughters. Together, we can amplify the issues. And we need more amplification! Unfortunately, we’ve seen too little support out of Washington for working caregivers and that must change if we are going to find answers to the questions I posed a year ago: ”What will the economic impact be if America can’t keep caregivers at work?” and “How will society pay for the care that working daughters, with their compromised pensions, retirement funds, and savings accounts, will one day need?” These are big questions and while we are moving in the right direction, there is still so much to be done.
Change has been slow, real slow, but I am hopeful as we move into 2017. Sure the political climate is uncertain and bizarre at best, but women are fired up and ready to work toward positive change. Together I know we can improve the lives of working daughters.
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