President Joe Biden signed a new executive order earlier this week that will increase compensation for certain employees of federal agencies.
There are 50 different directives that are part of the executive order, which will essentially increase the compensation for people who work as care workers and as caregivers to support family. It will also expand options for affordable care.
Susan Rice, who serves as a domestic policy adviser to the White House, commented recently:
“The child care and long-term care systems in this country just don’t work well. High quality care is costly to deliver, it’s labor intensive, it requires skilled workers. Yet care workers – who are disproportionately women and women of color and immigrants – are among the lowest paid in the country, despite working in some of the most important and complex and demanding jobs.”
She further said this executive order and the actions that Biden is taking are the “most comprehensive set of executive actions” ever taken by a president in terms of trying to advance care.
Biden’s order directs federal agencies to work and identify any grant programs that could support both child care as well as long-term care for any person who works on a federal project. The Office of Personnel Management also must review its policies for subsidiaries, considering in the process whether it should set a standard for how federal agencies provide subsidies for child care.
The Department of Defense also must try to make child care on their military installations more affordable to families who need it.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, is being instructed to improve their access to all home-based care that veterans might need to help them complete daily activities.
The Department of Health and Human Services has to streamline its processes that Alaska Natives and American Indians must go through if they want access to child care.
In addition, all staff and teachers for the Head Start programs will see an increase in their pay as well as their benefits. This program is available to all children under the age of 5 who reside in a household that’s classified as low income. Right now, these teachers earn $35,000 annually in salary.
Under the executive order, the Department of Labor has to publish a sample agreement for employees so that every party understands what their rights are.
A senior official in the White House said there was no specific dollar amount placed on the executive order, simply because it’ll look at “how do we take best advantage of the federal dollars that are already being spent in the child care space … to make sure that they actually go to address some of the challenges.”
HHS also must issue additional guidance on how the overall quality of home care jobs can be improved, which includes leveraging funding from Medicaid so there is a sufficient number of home care workers available for senior citizens and people who have disabilities who are on Medicaid.