Session: Politics and Policy of Supporting Employment and Caregiving (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

167 Politics and Policy of Supporting Employment and Caregiving

Friday, January 17, 2020: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Liberty Ballroom N, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs (WWLPP)
Symposium Organizer:
Julia Henly, PhD, University of Chicago
Julie Vogtman, JD, National Women's Law Center and Jane Waldfogel, PhD, Columbia University
Caregiving supports for working parents are critical to low-income families' economic wellbeing and children's healthy development. Policies that support the dual demands of paid employment and caregiving are of many types (e.g., family leave, tax credits, safety net programs). They also represent different approaches to the work-care dilemma: i) family leave policies provide job protection and, in some cases, wage replacement so that new parents, as well as workers caring for an ill or elderly relative, can take time away from paid employment to provide caregiving without risk of losing a job; ii) tax credits and policies that subsidize the caregiving expenses performed by others enable workers to continue in paid employment (rather than enabling workers to provide care); iii) early childhood education, such as Head Start and Public PreK, offer programming to children with the purpose of fostering positive development and may not have an explicit goal of supporting employment. However, when these programs align with parental work schedules, they may also function as a work support. Together the papers in this panel engage this diverse policy landscape with three primary aims. The first is to consider how different approaches to supporting employment and caregiving are reflected in real policy choices, using several case examples. The second is to consider the political course that different policy approaches take and the narratives about work, family, and caregiving that they reveal. The third aim is to consider distributional implications of policy approaches: who benefits and who may fall behind when different policy paths are pursued?

The first paper examines social insurance and means-tested programs that are available across six states with paid family leave laws, considering the generosity and scope of programs alone and in combination. These findings reveal significant variation across states in how programs might be packaged and under what conditions paid family leave and/or safety net programs are most economically beneficial.

The second paper takes as its case a paid family leave campaign in Colorado. The authors first consider the competing narratives shaping arguments in favor and against the legislation. They then estimate program benefits, using data available from similar state programs. They argue that the proposed Colorado legislation would disproportionately benefit the most economically disadvantaged workers.

The next two papers shift focus to child care and early education. They explore how two policy narratives (child care as work support vs. tool of child development) operate together but in tension in policymaking. The first paper considers the national discussion and how these two policy frames shaped the 2014 Reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The second paper considers an early care and education campaign in Hawaii that almost exclusively used a child development frame to generate support for public preschool. Implications of these frames for program beneficiaries is discussed.

Two discussants, one who is an an expert on family leave and child care research and one who is an expert on employment law and public policy will discuss.

* noted as presenting author
The Promise of Family Leave in Colorado
Jennifer Greenfield, PhD, University of Denver; Nancy Reichman, University of Denver; Paula Cole, PhD, University of Denver
(Re)Assessing the Work Support and Child Development Goals of Child Care Subsidies
Julia Henly, PhD, University of Chicago; Adams Gina, MA, MSW, Urban Institute
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