Recently, Washington University sociologist Caitlyn Collins penned an essay in the Harvard Business Review titled, “The Free Market has Failed U.S. Working Parents.” Among the many insights in her piece, Collins illustrates how miserably the United States compares to other Western industrialized nations when it comes to work-life balance, particularly federal policies (or lack thereof) around such things as:
- living wage employment
- fair and affordable housing
- fair and equitable work schedules
- affordable, quality childcare
- paid family leave
Collins notes that as other nations have “long understood the idea that supportive social policy improves the well-being of their citizens,” the U.S., by contrast lacks “any coherent work-family policy to support caregiving.” She continues by declaring that in America:
We have no universal health care. No universal childcare. No universal social insurance entitlement. No guaranteed basic income. No paid parental leave or illness leave. No federal mandate to compel employers to offer supportive policies to workers with dependent care responsibilities — not even a single vacation or sick day.
Moreover, due to the lack of protections for American families, the dire circumstances in which many of them live have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. However, Collins does see a bright spot through all of this: that American families have come to understand that their government “can and should do far more to support them at work and at home.” And, perhaps, that will lead to significant and enduring federal policy solutions in the future.
That said, for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, there is support. Residents of Ramsey and Washington counties can access Community Action’s dedicated webpage here for a comprehensive list of COVID-19 related resources. The State of Minnesota also operates a COVID-19 Response website that provides information on testing locations, how to stay safe, and services related to employment, food support, childcare, financial assistance, housing, healthcare, education, mental health resources.