Dr. Alison Stuebe, associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine expert at UNC OB-GYN and and Distinguished Scholar of Infant and Young Child Feeding at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has unveiled an innovative plan to count the care work individuals engage in as part of our economy.
The Care4America Corps would be a domestic service and career development corps that engages young men and women in caring work and serves as the first step on the career ladder for the caring professions.
Dr. Stuebe said one-in-five employed women are back to work just 10 days after giving birth – not because they want to, but because they must.
“I want to be clear: All parents work,” she said. “However, in our economy, we only count paid work. If a mother leaves paid employment to care for her newborn, she is no longer getting a paycheck, so the Gross Domestic Product shrinks. If that mother returns the paid workforce and puts her newborn in daycare, the GDP grows. We assiduously track the GDP, but that lost care work is invisible.”
This uncounted care work is the glue that holds our families and our communities together, but it’s invisible in our economic system, said Stuebe.
Dr. Stuebe’s concept of the Care4America Corps would be a large, coordinated investment in our country’s care work infrastructure. The corps would bring together local caregiving agencies, community colleges and universities to engage a diverse population of young men and women in the caring professions.
The corps will be the first rung on the career ladder for the caring professions. During their two years of service, recruits will shadow social service and health professionals and receive mentoring for careers in caregiving. In partnership with community colleges, the corps will support coursework, certification and licensure as health educators and personal care workers. The corps will also provide funding for further training, as well as career counseling and job placement.
“Care4America will offer future oncologists the opportunity to comfort and care for hospice patients, and will challenge future pediatricians to manage terrible twos,” she said.
Dr. Stuebe will start by piloting Care4America Corps in five to 10 communities, exploring how to build partnerships that engage new recruits, serve communities and lift up front-line care workers.
“It’s time to rebuild our care work infrastructure, so that every member of society can do what it is that makes them come alive, while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones,” said Dr. Stuebe.
To get involved with the effort, visit this page to learn more.
The main topic of this TEDxUNC salon event, held January 17 at UNC’s School of Social Work and released online March 5, was “What if…Reimagining Maternal and Child Health in the U.S.”
Other talks included in the event introduced ideas of combating racism, leading for equity, normalizing intimacy and health, combining art and activism and more. A screening of the talks also premiered at the Association for Maternal and Child Health Programs’ National Conference March 5 with a live panel.
See the other talks here.