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Posted 12/10/2021

National Poll Finds Large Majorities of Grandparents Provided Unpaid Family Care During Pandemic

National Poll Finds Large Majorities of Grandparents Provided Unpaid Family Care During Pandemic

A national poll conducted December 1-4, 2021, the Data for Progress survey reflects the critical role grandparents have played in family caregiving during the pandemic, and demonstrates strong support for a bill they believe will have positive impacts on their children and grandchildren. Nearly two-thirds of grandparents in the U.S. have been providing unpaid family care to their children, grandchildren, or other family members during the pandemic.

The poll, commissioned by Caring Across Generations, comes on the heels of a rally in that nation's capital yesterday led by grandmothers from across the country, including members of Congress, family caregivers, care workers and disability rights advocates, demanding that the Senate swiftly pass the bill. Speaking in front of the Capitol, Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Debbie Dingell joined with other grandmothers to share their experiences as caregivers across generations—for spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces—and called on Congress to make child care, paid leave and long-term care accessible and affordable.

“Grandmothers are the pillars of our families,” said Nicole Jorwic, event organizer and chief of advocacy and campaigns at Caring Across Generations. “During the pandemic, and long before, grandmothers have provided care across multiple generations and households. Investing in all three care provisions is what grandparents want and will ensure greater stability for grandmothers’ children and grandchildren."

Senators Bob Casey and Ron Wyden, who are grandfathers, and Reps. Veronica Escobar, Sara Jacobs and Jan Schakowsky, also celebrated the critical role that grandparents play in families.

“As a daughter, mother and grandmother, I’ve seen firsthand how essential quality care is across generations,” said Deborah McAllister, rally speaker and home care worker from Burgaw, NC. “When my mother fell ill, I left my job to become her full-time caregiver. Leaving my job meant sacrificing my income and financial security, but I did what I had to do to keep my mother at home with the people and things that she loves. And I recently supported my daughter by caring for my grandson, too. Spending time with my grandson and mother reminded me that one day, the time will come when they will have to care for me. It’s time our country recognizes family caregivers like me who step up to the plate each and every day for loves in need. The Build Back Better Act is a historic investment in care that takes a huge leap forward in ensuring that grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles, and children can get the care they need, how, when and where they need it.”

McAllister is far from alone. According to the survey, grandparents reported helping their adult children most with grandchildren-related errands, including housework, transportation, cooking or home repairs (64 percent); followed by financial assistance (48 percent); and tasks associated with activities of daily living (30 percent), such as dressing, bathing or using the bathroom. 

“Being furloughed from my job and losing more than half my income in the pandemic put us in crisis,” said rally speaker and MomsRising member Mary Beth Cochran, who traveled from Canton, North Carolina where she cares for her grandchildren. “It’s hard when your six-year-old asks why the tooth fairy stopped coming, or when your 12-year-old anxiously asks if we have enough food to last the month. If Congress lets the expanded Child Tax Credit expire after this month, children will go hungry and grandmas like me will go without the medications they need. We need to build back better with child care, paid leave and a permanent expanded Child Tax Credit.”

After listening to Mary Beth’s speech and viewing the survey results, Josephine Kalipeni, executive director of Family Values @ Work, added: “As a family caregiver myself, I know this fact to be true: most workers in the U.S. take family and medical leave to care for a sick family member or oneself. It is past time that we acknowledge the intergenerational connectedness of our families, and it's past time for federal policy to reflect and respect this dynamic. This rally wasn't just to showcase grandmas, it was to illustrate for a divided Congress the universal need for paid leave for all families and all reasons. It shouldn't matter who you are, where you live, or who you work for."

The rally was sponsored by Caring Across Generations, MomsRising, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Service Employees International Union, The Arc, ADAPT, Be A Hero Fund, Family Values @ Work, Justice in Aging and other members of the Care Can’t Wait, Long Term Supports and Services and Real Recovery Now coalitions. 

Caring Across Generations is a national campaign of families, caregivers, people with disabilities, and aging Americans working to transform the way we care in this country. By harnessing the power of online and grassroots organizing and culture change work, we are shifting how our nation values caregiving and calling for policy solutions that enable all of us to live well and age with dignity. For more information, visit http://www.caringacross.org.  

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