PowHer the Vote: Caregiving

Whether you are providing, receiving or organizing care – paid or unpaid – it is complicated, costly, and stressful. It is also a universal and basic human need.

Since caregiving has historically been considered women’s work, women have heroically taken on this responsibility against the burden of a broken system. The challenge ahead is meeting the needs of families, as well as caregivers, to create an equitable and accessible system to support the growing needs of Americans.

Unpaid caregivers, over 43 million adults in the United States, provide unpaid care to an adult or a child annually. Juggling between the demands of their own job, or sacrificing their job completely, these caregivers are thus as vulnerable as those they serve. Those who can afford paid caregiving are saddled with just as strenuous of costs.

Paid caregivers must cope with low wages, often insecure working conditions and schedules, and the demands of their own families. With the passage of the $15 minimum wage raise, these workers will see some relief. As well, NY has increased protections with the passage of a Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights.

Child care that is affordable, accessible and high quality is an enormous challenge for most families. NYS can play a bigger role in helping families find and afford childcare. As well, while recent federal child care law has improved the national standards, government involvement is essential in incentivizing and supporting caregivers to meet those requirements. Recent progress in New York for Universal Pre-K points to a growing understand of the benefits of early child care for families and our state. Use this interactive to see how much the failing childcare system could cost you.

Join us for our #PowHerTheVote for Caregiving Take Action Hour Thursday, September 29th from 1-2:00PM!


This factsheet is a part of PowHer the Vote, a campaign to ignite and equip New Yorkers to advance women’s issues in the 2016 election.

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Ask Your Candidate How can NYS government increase affordable, accessible, quality childcare?


The number of family caregivers in the
U.S. that provide an estimated 36 billion
unpaid hours of care for just adults.


Mothers are in the U.S. workforce
and must rely on childcare.

The average per year cost of
center-based infant care in New York State.

What’s Happening In New York?

What’s Happening Nationally?

How does this affect women’s economic equality?

Lack of affordable formal caregiving and low wages for paid caregivers can trap already struggling women and their families into cycles of intergenerational poverty.

  • Compared to other demographic groups, low-income workers, minorities, and women are more likely to reduce their work hours or leave the workforce completely because of their caregiving role.
  • Even if parents do not quit their jobs to be caregivers, low-income parents with unpredictable schedules are more likely to suspend advancing their education and their incomes.
  • Evidence suggests that becoming a full-time caregiver in midlife may substantially increase women’s risk of living in poverty in old age.
  • Domestic workers, who are vulnerable to monetary and physical abuses, have little financial security, because of substandard wages.

Key Terms

  • Informal caregivers:  Anyone who provides full or part time, mostly unpaid, care to children and/or to adults (particularly the elderly) with chronic disabilities or special care needs. Formal caregivers are paid providers who work in one’s home or in a distinguished care setting (a domestic worker, day care, residential facility, long-term care facility etc.)
  • Eldercare:  Any care to a recipient is age 18+, with chronic disabilities or special care needs. Recipients being cared receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing or dressing, or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as managing finances or preparing meals.
  • Child Care: Any care provided on a regular basis by someone other than the child’s mother.
  • Domestic worker:  Someone who works in another person’s home caring for children or an elderly person, keeping house (cleaning and cooking) or performing other jobs in the home including gardening or repairs.


Raising Our Nation: Forging a More Robust and Equitable Childcare System in American (Ms. Foundation)

Caregiving in the United States 2015 (AARP)

National Domestic Workers Alliance

Domestic Workers: Know Your Rights (Domestic Workers United)