The True Costs of Home Care: UnidosUS releases report on Latino caregivers

Our Affiliate Dominico-American Society of Queens delivers hot meals delivery during COVID-19. 

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

Recently, UnidosUS published The True Costs of Home Care: The Impact on Working Latino Caregivers, a report that examines the costs and struggles of Latino workers caring for family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report includes interviews with members of our community, which paint a holistic picture of what our community is experiencing as our country continues to deal with this unpredictable and long-lasting crisis.

“This study reflects the difficult moments that our communities have experienced. Hoping that the Cost of Care report will help us in the future,” explains Jose Tejada, Executive Director of UnidosUS Affiliate Dominico-American Society of Queens.

The challenges that caregivers face in our community are complex—for example, there is a lack of access to quality child care, especially in rural areas, which places more of a burden on families. Being a caregiver can also impact career and job choices as well as the amount of income one earns, because caregivers need jobs that will allow them to keep up with their other responsibilities. The majority of Latino caregivers in the study, for example, were not given paid time off from work for care activities or did not have access to paid sick leave through their employer.

An Eastmont Community Center client receives food last summer to bear the pandemic.

“To a demographic whom historically decisions have been made for them, and not with them, the elderly and disabled continue to be overlooked during this unprecedented pandemic. Due to barriers to entry for retirement products and minimal education intervention from employers and the government, those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus are additionally combatting the lack of retirement preparedness, which will continue to increase the dependency on familial income-earning caregivers,” says Isaias Hernandez, Executive Director of UnidosUS Affiliate Eastmont Community Center.

As the study illustrates, adult caregivers who need to pay out of pocket costs associated with care spend, on average, $6,954 per year. Many caregivers who rely on center-based child care spend more than what is considered affordable: no more than 7% of a family’s income according to the Department of Health and Human Services. No state meets that definition of affordability, and in 12 states, center-based care amounts to more than 20% of the state’s median income.

With many caregivers reporting that they spend upwards of 37 hours per week caring for their loved ones, caregiving is akin to a full-time job. Almost half of Latino adult caregivers in the study also reported that caregiving responsibilities have impacted their jobs and income—making the role of UnidosUS Affiliates even more critical during the pandemic.

“At SERJobs, we believe in the power and purpose of work. The pandemic has resulted in an even greater need for our services over this last year. We will continue to grow our programs and reach out to communities most affected by the current situation while also responding to the growing needs of our employer partners,” Sheroo Mukhtiar, Executive Director of UnidosUS Affiliate SERJobs explains.

East Coast Migrant Head Start Project’s class prior to the pandemic.

Even beyond the financial struggle, stress is one of the biggest costs that is experienced by people who are caregivers for their loved ones. UnidosUS Affiliate East Coast Migrant Head Start Project adds:

“ECMHSP is pleased to have been able to support the development of this important study on the cost of home care. This study shines a light on a challenge that all of our families face and which causes great economic and emotional stress—ensuring that children and older family members are loved and cared for while still being able to earn an income to support their families. This is a difficult conversation to begin, but an important one as we look for solutions to support both the financial and emotional well-being of our families.”

Through this report, UnidosUS elevated the voices of Latino caregivers and examined the impact that the pandemic has had on their work, their caregiving roles, and their families. Eight months after closures first began, jobs have changed and many of the caregivers in our study reported a disruption to their household income, forcing them to live on their savings and make cuts to their regular expenses. Meanwhile, the caregivers still face the same responsibilities—financial- and care-related—at home. As Congress looks toward providing American workers and their families with more relief and the rollout of the vaccines continues, ensuring that caregivers have the support they need to balance their responsibilities to their families and also be able to put food on the table is essential.

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