11 University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review 150 (2021)
In March 2020, the United States declared a pandemic due to the global Covid-19 virus. Across the nation and within a matter of days, workplaces, schools, childcare, and eldercare facilities shuttered. People retreated to their homes to shelter-in-place and slow the spread of the virus for what would become a much longer time than most initially anticipated. Now, more than a year into the pandemic, many professional and personal lives have been upended and become inextricably intertwined. Work is now home, and home is now work. Work is completed at all times of day and well into the night. Children and pets make daily appearances in our virtual meetings. In many ways, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a leveling experience. Everyone has struggled during the pandemic in some way—even the most privileged. And, yet, in many ways the pandemic has also been incredibly stratifying. The United States is now in an “unequal recession.” One of the most crucial inequalities is the impact on those who hold caregiving roles in our society.
Working caregivers and women absorbed most of the unanticipated work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic—childcare, remote teaching, and care for aging parents and family members with special needs. Additionally, those same working caregivers—primarily women—are quitting their jobs in record numbers in order to manage the workload. Loss of employment is not the only impact.
Working caregivers quickly became society’s fallback plan in the United States. The Covid-19 pandemic shone a bright light on the value that the United States assigns to the work of caregiving and the inequities that exist in American culture and workplaces toward the individuals who perform those roles. The ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on women will be felt for years to come—by the women, their families, and our workplaces which have lost and are losing daily the important and diverse perspectives those women bring to their work.
This article explores the role of caregivers during the Covid-19 pandemic, both the immediate and long-term impacts on those in caregiving roles, including the disproportionate impact of caregiving responsibilities on women, and the need for long-term reform to better support and value caregivers in the United States.
Fuith, Leanne and Trombley, Susan, "COVID-19 and the Caregiving Crisis: The Rights of our Nation's Social Safety Net and a Doorway to Reform" (2021). Faculty Scholarship. 493.