What is Care?
My all-time favorite popularization of care issues is the comic book Adventures of Carrie Giver, but I think there’s a serious problem with this proposal as it now stands
My all-time favorite popularization of care issues is the comic book Adventures of Carrie Giver, available from T.R. Rose Associates. I like its emphasis on extending the current Child Credit to families providing care for anyone–not necessarily a child. But I think there’s a serious problem with this proposal as it now stands–a problem that characterizes much of the current advocacy literature. It’s not clear what care is–how it is defined. The focus seems to lie on care for a dependent. Care provided to (or exchanged with) another adult is not “counted.” But its not easy to define “dependency” apart from obvious age ranges or serious health problems.
Sometimes care is defined in terms of assistance with so-called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). This makes a lot of sense when focusing on individuals with health problems. But measurements of the level and type of assistance often vary. For an illustration of this problem, which also makes the best of the available data, see Mary Jo Gibson and Ari Houser’s report published by the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP), entitled Valuing the Invaluable: A New Look at the Economic Value of Family Caregiving. The most puzzling aspect of this report is its failure to include–or even discuss–issues of child care. As someone who got interested in care via work on the costs of children, I find it strange that the term “family caregiving” is often reserved for care of the elderly.
I think this nomenclature reflects the fractured structure of care advocacy –organizations working on child care and for elder care don’t seem to talk to one another much, and of course they are often pitted against one another in budget battles. Also, advocates for greater public support for family care (whether of children or the elderly) often seem disconnected from efforts to improve wages and working conditions of the employed caregivers that often collaborate with them…such as child care workers and home care aides. We really need to develop a more unified analysis of the “care sector” as a whole.