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Biden signs executive order to support care workers, expand affordable care options

President Biden on Tuesday will sign an executive order to boost compensation for care workers, support family caregivers, and expand affordable care options through 50 directives to federal agencies. 

“The child care and long-term care systems in this country just don’t work well. High quality care is costly to deliver, it’s labor intensive, it requires skilled workers. Yet care workers—who are disproportionately women and women of color and immigrants—are among the lowest paid in the country, despite working in some of the most important and complex and demanding jobs,” said domestic policy adviser Susan Rice.

Rice called Biden’s order the “most comprehensive set of executive actions” that a president has ever taken to advance care.

For federal workers, the order directs agencies to work to identify which grant programs can support child care and long-term care for people working on federal projects. The Office of Personnel Management will be directed to review its subsidy policies and consider setting standards for how agencies provide child care subsides. 

Similarly, the Defense Department will work to make child care on military installations more affordable through the order.

The order directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve access to home-based care for veterans who require help with daily living activities. And, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be directed to streamline the process for American Indian and Alaska Native to access child care. 

It will direct HHS to increase the pay and benefits for teachers and staff of Head Start programs, which are available to children from low income households under the age of 5. Those teachers currently make an average of $35,000 annually. Also, for care workers, the Department of Labor will be directed to publish a sample employee agreement so all parties understand their rights.

There is no dollar amount associated with the executive order because it will look at “how do we take best advantage of the federal dollars that are already being spent in the child care space … to make sure that they actually go to address some of the challenges,” according to a senior administration official.

The order directs HHS to issue guidance to improve the quality of home care jobs, including by leveraging Medicaid funding so there are enough home care workers for seniors and people with disabilities on Medicaid. And, the agency will be directed to consider testing a new dementia care model that will include short-term help to give a primary family caregiver a break.

Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget called for investments to support high-quality, affordable child care, preschool, and long-term care, and this order comes out while the White House and lawmakers are still negotiating the budget.

Biden’s budget includes $9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $13.1 billion for Head Start, and $500 million for grants to create or expand free, high-quality preschool in school or community-based settings for children in high poverty areas, among other provisions.

Source: The Hill

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