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Entries tagged "caring across generations"

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Unconventional Wisdom: Fighting with Love

July 14, 2011 ·

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I saw my share of playground fights. Most were minor scuffles and nothing was like the bullies here in Washington trying to win the brawl over the budget by throwing a single knock-out punch.

This shouldn't be a fight. Not because the issues at hand aren't worth fighting for, but because we are all suffering and we should be seeking common solutions.

In the wake of this economic crisis, IPS piloted a new program to support small "Resilience Circles." These groups of 10-20 people enhance personal security through connections, exchanges, and networks. "Helping each other is at the heart of the experience," program coordinator Sarah Byrnes explains. "Little exchanges…help us slowly stretch our muscles for helping each other. They create relationships that can prove essential when hard times fall."

The Circles remind us all that by helping each other, we can climb out of crisis. This weekend, over 1,500 house parties are planned. Sign up for one, join the conversation, and become part of the solution.

While millions of Americans suffer economic distress, leaders in Washington seem to be both deaf and blind to their situation. This week, IPS helped lead the Caring Across Generations Congress that brought 700 people to Washington, DC. Many participants briefed lawmakers, including Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on the hardships facing an aging population and the workers that provide home health care for them.

With Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block, the crisis for seniors and people with disabilities is becoming as urgent as the crisis facing the workers who are caring for them. "By addressing both sides of the caregiving relationship there's an opportunity to affirm shared values and find solutions that can address the needs of all," writes IPS expert Tiffany Williams.

Reporting from the conference (and hosting a panel as well), GRITtv host Laura Flanders noted, "The Campaign, one of the most remarkable coalition efforts yet, has a plan: value caregivers, forge good jobs out of bad, give quality home health care to those who need it — and create two million jobs while you're at it!"

From Main Street to Wall Street, IPS is proposing new ideas and concrete solutions to the crisis. Keep an eye out next Tuesday for a new report from the New Economy Working Group, "How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule."

No matter what agreement is reached in Washington in the coming weeks, our economy won't improve without all of us working together. The Institute's campaigns, by putting people at the center, fight the economic downturn with the strongest weapon available: love.

Unconventional Wisdom is the Institute's bi-weekly newsletter. To subscribe, click here.

New National Movement to Build Justice Across Generations [VIDEO]

July 14, 2011 ·

Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis were among the 700 people who on Tuesday, July 12, joined at the Washington Hilton Hotel to launch the Caring Across Generations campaign: a movement to protect and expand our nation’s support system for the aging and people with disabilities at a time when the need for care in America is skyrocketing. 

Check out the opening of the event here:


Part 2

Part 3

What Mom Really Wants this Mother's Day

May 5, 2011 ·

This Sunday, American families will celebrate Mother's Day. For centuries, we have venerated mothers for the selflessness and the tender caregiving that allows us to feel safe and to thrive. Beyond the vases of roses, the boxes of chocolate, even the spa gift certificates, we can do more for the caregivers in our families.

There are many forms caregiving relationships that are full of tenderness and intimacy — not just between mother and child, but between a son and his and aging father, or between the home health aide and the Alzheimer’s patient, or between the working woman with a disability and the attendant who helps her get ready in the morning. Comedian Amy Poehler commented on the indispensable role of caregivers at the Time 100 event last week:

"I have thought very hard and long about what has influenced me over the past couple of years, and…it was the women who helped me take care of my children…who come to my house and help me raise my children. And for you working women who are out there tonight who get to do what you get to do because there are wonderful people who help you at home, I would like to take a moment to thank those people, some of whom are watching their children right now, while you’re at this event. Those are people who love your children as much as you do, and who inspire them and influence them and on behalf of every sister and mother and person who stands in your kitchen and helps you love your child, I say thank you and I celebrate you tonight."

Care workers, those who provide the childcare, housekeeping, and direct care services that allow us to go to work and support our families, or who allow our loved ones to receive care at home with dignity instead of being institutionalized, need our attention as a nation. Those who aren’t lucky enough to work for the Amy Poehlers of the world are often working under strenuous conditions, vulnerable to abuse and burn out. Many workers lack pathways to career advancement and citizenship, compromising working conditions and jeopardizing the quality of care.

Meanwhile, the struggle to find quality, affordable caregiving services becomes more challenging by the year. Even as the economy "recovers" from the destruction caused by Wall Street speculators and tax-evading corporations, budget shortfalls are prompting cuts on the state and Federal level to many of the basic human services that we depend on in this country, including Medicaid and Medicare. Some lawmakers are pushing to repeal some of the most promising programs in the new healthcare law that will help our seniors and fellow citizens with disabilities access home care, such as the CLASS Act, which provides long-term care insurance, and have threatened to block grant Medicaid, which according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities would cause "serious hardship."

A burgeoning movement of domestic workers and direct-care workers, alongside advocates for the elderly and disabled came together this week in Washington, DC for the latest meeting of the Caring Across Generations campaign. This multi-organization campaign is led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance (whose director Ai-jen Poo was recently featured in a New York Times article by IPS board member Barbara Ehrenreich), Jobs with Justice, and Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employer’s Association.

Care meetingThe meeting brought together dozens of organizations from the disability rights, senior rights, and worker rights worlds, and included a panel discussion with policy experts like Dean Baker and Van Jones. A broad coalition, including the Institute for Policy Studies, has come together to provide leadership to the campaign, which is based on the values of quality, affordable care, dignified and meaningful jobs, and the values of inclusiveness and interdependence. In addition to joining the fights to preserve the services and programs that families depend on today, the long-term vision of the Campaign includes: 

  • Creating jobs to meet the growing demand for caregivers
  • Improving the quality of jobs so that these jobs respect the rights of workers who provide this valuable care
  • Providing training and a meaningful career ladder
  • Providing a path to citizenship
  • Supporting individuals and families to access and afford quality care, and to address the needs of unpaid family caregivers. 

 The campaign will be fully launched in DC at the first "Care Congress" on July 12. I hope you will join us, and the more than 700 people from all around the country who want to be part of the movement to transform care in the United States.

What mom really needs this Mother’s Day isn’t a bouquet of flowers or greeting card. It’s a new respect for the value of care, in all its forms, and a new vision for what we deserve as Americans when it comes to giving and receiving care.

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