Improving Life Outcomes
Human care and development must be improved if we are to build a competitive 21st century economy. The children we educate today will be the workers of tomorrow, and as our society ages we must also build systems to care for the elderly whose days at work are past. A strong foundation in social care is every bit as critical as a strong physical foundation, and has the potential for impressive job creation: according to some studies, investments in social care can create 1.5 times the number of jobs as the same investment in green energy.
At the same, social care jobs provide employment for those populations that are among the hardest hit by the Great Recession, such as women and African American and Latino workers without a college degree.
Job creation in social care leads to better quality of life for all. Early education and eldercare are top concerns for many families, but often strain family budgets and cause stress or low productivity at work for heads of households. These types of investments are critical to enabling workers to meet work- and family-related demands without compromising one or the other, ultimately resulting in a more productive workforce and competitive economy.
Focus on Education and Universal Pre-K: Pre-kindergarten education is overwhelmingly funded by state and local governments, leaving room for advocates to promote policies that lead to concrete job creation. For example, states can adopt a per-pupil funding structure and include pre-K within larger educational programs that govern grammar schools. States such as Iowa have taken creative financing approaches that phase in access to pre-K, while other states, such as West Virginia, require counties to partner with existing programs to develop a comprehensive pre-K plan.
Promote Home-Based Health Care: States can promote quality home care jobs through Medicaid by creating public bodies to coordinate consumer-driven programs, under which families of the person needing care recruit and hire home care workers. Other cities and counties, particularly in New York and California, have promoted quality home care jobs by adopting living wage policies for Medicaid home care workers. In fact, New York became the first state to implement such policy as part of a comprehensive initiative to modernize the program, improve jobs, and control costs.
Please see Filling the Good Jobs Deficit: An Economic Recovery Agenda for Our States and Cities, and sign up to receive monthly newsletters, for more information.