Report: Designing Universal Family Care

USAState-Based Social Insurance Programs for Early Child Care and Education, Paid Family and Medical Leave, and Long-Term Services and Supports

Extract from Executive Summary

'The dynamics of work and family life have shifted over the past several decades, but public policy has not kept pace with working families’ changing needs. As households increasingly rely on the income of all working-age adults to make ends meet, many families now lack a stay-at-home caregiver. Moreover, our disparate programs are not well-designed or integrated to address the reality that family caregiving needs—including those related to early child care and education (ECCE), paid family and medical leave (PFML), and long-term services and supports (LTSS)—overlap and change over the life course.  

'A patchwork of federal programs exists to help poor and low-income families pay the costs of early child care and education. These programs are chronically underfunded, however, and fail to serve a significant share of even the fraction of families with sufficiently low income to qualify.

'In the absence of a national PFML policy, four states—California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island—have implemented PFML social insurance programs, and four more jurisdictions—the District of Columbia, Washington, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—have recently enacted bills that currently await implementation. In the vast majority of states, however, most workers—when they need time away from work to care for a loved one and/or cope with a health problem of their own—lack access to paid leave. If they take leave to recover from an illness or care for a loved one, they risk significant wage or even job loss.

'Long-term services and supports (LTSS) needs are growing, and for a variety of reasons families are becoming less able to meet them. One in two of those turning 65 today will need LTSS. Around 40 percent of those needing LTSS today are under 65; many will require lifelong services and supports. LTSS can be costly for both those needing care and family caregivers.

'Each chapter in this report analyzes these care policy challenges and presents policy options for states to consider in addressing them. All options are based on an underlying presumption of universality, that is, care supports that are not means-tested. Thus, the report is focused on state-based, social insurance approaches...'

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