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Caregiving On and Off the Clock: Equity Issues Faced by Care Workers with Dependents

April 13, 2020

Care work is essential to meet the basic needs and wellbeing of any society. However, the U.S. faces a burgeoning care crisis. In the coming years, aging Baby Boomers will require an unprecedented amount of paid elder care services. Meanwhile, the current unmet paid child care needs remain high On the supply side, our research shows that gender and racial/ethnic inequities are built into the looming care crisis: 9 in 10 low-wage care workers are women and almost half are racial/ethnic minority groups.While there is clearly a high demand for care workers, little research examines how paid care workers afford and manage their own caregiving needs. Given that paid care workers with children and elderly dependents care around the clock—at work and at home—it is important to understand if they have enough of their own care supports to meet these needs. These questions are especially pressing during the current public health crisis, as care workers are called upon to care for the most vulnerable members of society and the importance of care work is more visible than ever. Paid care workers' ability to care for their own families even while they continue to care for ours is critical to our ability to weather the COVID-19 storm and be ready to care for our aging population.In this analysis, our sample of care workers includes a range of well-paid to poorly paid jobs including physicians, physical therapists, Certified Nursing Assistants and personal and home care aides.3 We consider care needs for children under 13 (e.g., child care centers, family child care), adult parents (e.g., at home, in a day program) or both, by race/ethnicity and work and family composition.

A Snapshot of Child Opportunity Across the U.S.: National Inequity Patterns

January 17, 2020

The Child Opportunity Index (COI) measures and maps the quality of resources and conditions (e.g., good early childhood education centers and schools, green spaces, access to healthy food, low poverty) that matter for children to develop in a healthy way in the neighborhoods where they live. The Index looks at 29 key factors that affect how children experience their neighborhoods in three domains: education, health and environment, and social and economic.The Child Opportunity Index is the first index of neighborhood conditions that specifically focuses on those neighborhood features that help children thrive. The Geography of Child Opportunity report covers all neighborhoods in the 100 largest metro areas—cities and their surrounding suburbs—which are home to 67% of U.S. children. Subsequent reports will include analysis of data for all neighborhoods in the U.S.The Child Opportunity Score ranks all neighborhoods in the U.S. according to their Child Opportunity Index on a scale of 1 to 100. The Child Opportunity Score for a given metro area summarizes the neighborhood opportunity experienced by the typical child in that metro and allows us to make comparisons between metro areas. For example, in Bakersfield, California, the Child Opportunity Score is 20, while in Boston, Massachusetts, the score is 79. These differences indicate that children across the U.S. are growing up in neighborhoods with very different conditions and resources for healthy child development.

Unequal Access to FMLA Leave Persists

January 16, 2020

Family and medical leave (FML) plays a vital role in helping workers balance their personal and family health needs. FML allows employees to take time off of work to address their own or a family member's serious health condition or to bond after the birth or adoption of a child. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is federal legislation guaranteeing job-protected unpaid leave to certain eligible workers to care for themselves or an immediate family member in times of illness, birth or adoption. However, access to the FMLA is limited by both eligibility and affordability, both of which are unequal across different racial/ethnic groups.

What Does "Economically Secure" Children Really Mean? Federal Statistics Monitoring Children’s Economic Security Need an Overhaul

January 16, 2020

Federal agencies monitor child and family wellbeing and consider children living with at least one adult working full time, year round as economically secure. However, an economically secure environment for children depends on much more than the number of hours their parents work. Economic security also requires wages that are high enough for children and families to live healthy lives.A more meaningful definition of economic security for children considers whether full-time working adults earn enough income to meet minimum living standards for children. defines economically secure children as those living with at least one adult working full time, year round only if family incomes are over 200% of the federal poverty level. For example, to be considered economically secure, children living with at least one full-time working adult in a family of four in 2019 need to have a family income over $51,500.

Neighborhood Preschool Enrollment Patterns by Race/Ethnicity

January 15, 2020

High quality care and learning opportunities in early childhood (defined as the first five years of a child's life) have lasting effects on health and wellbeing. Although all children can benefit from high quality early care and education, nationally, only half of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in any preschool (public or private).Some groups of children are even less likely to be enrolled in preschool. Hispanic and American Indian children have lower enrollment rates (41% and 44%, respectively), while Asian, white and black children are enrolled at higher rates (54%, 49% and 51%, respectively).1 These differences in early childhood educational experiences may contribute to longer term educational and health inequities.

The Family and Medical Leave Act Policy Equity Assessment

January 1, 2020

In this Policy Equity Assessment, we assess the capacity of the FMLA to address racial/ethnic equity and whether the FMLA impacts economic and health outcomes and reduces disparities for U.S. workers. Significantly, some of the populations who are least likely to have access to FMLA leave are also more vulnerable to certain health conditions, which means that they may be the most in need of, but the least likely to access, worker benefits that can help address health issues. We particularly emphasize the impact of the FMLA for working parents, given research showing that when a parent is present to provide care, children recover faster from illnesses and injuries, have shorter hospital stays and are more likely to receive preventive care.

Data-for-Equity Research Brief: Unequal Availability of Head Start, How Neighborhood Matters

January 1, 2020

Research shows that over half of the children in the United States who are eligible for Head Start are not served by the program. There are important differences in Head Start participation by race/ethnicity: nationally, only 54% of eligible black children and only 38% of Hispanic/Latino eligible children are served by Head Start preschool. This brief explores how residential segregation may translate into inequitable access to Head Start programs at the neighborhood level for two time periods. National and state level patterns are discussed.

The Child Opportunity Gap: Inequities in Child Opportunity Within Metros

December 17, 2019

That children in Bakersfield, California and Boston, Massachusetts face very different opportunity should be a cause for concern. But perhaps more striking are the inequities in opportunity within metro areas. In many metro areas, the difference between their lowest and highest opportunity neighborhoods is as wide as the difference between very low- and very high-opportunity neighborhoods across the entire nation. To measure the difference in conditions that children experience, we look at the Child Opportunity Score by opportunity level. This allows us to compare very low-opportunity neighborhoods between metro areas. A child living in a very low-opportunity neighborhood in Milwaukee with a score of only 4 experiences much worse conditions than a child in a very low-opportunity neighborhood in Austin with a score of 24.Use this tool below to explore the wide variation in scores by opportunity level between metro areas.

Racial/Ethnic Patterns of Child Opportunity

December 17, 2019

Given the influence of neighborhoods on children's healthy development, it is very important to know where children live in relation to neighborhood opportunity and whether all children have equal access to neighborhood conditions and resources that help them thrive. The Child Opportunity Index allows us to answer these important questions.To summarize inequities in children's access to opportunity, we calculate Child Opportunity Scores by racial/ethnic group for each metro area. The score for a given racial/ethnic group represents the score of the neighborhood experienced by the typical (median) child of that group.

Child Opportunity and Health: How Neighborhood Opportunity Shapes Adult Outcomes

December 17, 2019

The quality of the neighborhoods where they grow up influences not only children's experiences today but also how well they do as adults. Measures of adult wellbeing include, for example, life expectancy and socioeconomic mobility.Very low- and very high-opportunity neighborhoods vary considerably not only in the conditions and resources they offer to children but also in the health and life prospects of their residents. Life expectancy at birth is a helpful way of summarizing the health of a population. It tells us how long people can expect to live when they are born.Across the 100 largest metropolitan areas, life expectancy at birth is higher with every level of neighborhood opportunity.Use this tool to explore the difference in life expectancy between the five levels of neighborhood opportunity within each metro area.

Unequal Neighborhood Availability of Head Start: Exploring Patterns in the Data

November 1, 2018

All children can benefit from high-quality early care and education because early childhood experiences (defined as the first five years of a child's life) can have lasting effects on child health and wellbeing.1  Head Start, the largest public early childhood care and education program in the U.S., offers high-quality preschool services for low-income children (defined as 3- and 4-year-olds with family income below 100% of the federal poverty level). However, nationally, only half of the children who are eligible for Head Start are served by the program,2  and some groups of children are less likely than others to be served by Head Start. For example, only 38% of Hispanic eligible children attend Head Start compared with more than half (53%) of black eligible children.Research shows that having a Head Start center in a child's immediate neighborhood increases participation among Hispanic and immigrant children.3  Yet, new research shows that, nationally, Hispanic and immigrant children have the worst neighborhood availability of Head Start followed by black children. Overall, white children who are eligible for Head Start have notably better neighborhood availability of Head Start than children of other racial/ethnic groups. These findings are concerning given that nationally Hispanic children now represent the largest share of children eligible for Head Start (36% in 2013-2017), and that together Hispanic and black children - the two groups with the worst neighborhood availability - represent over 60% of eligible children.