Survey: Hospital Workers Say Child Care Needs Undermining Their Jobs Amidst Covid-19

Survey: Hospital Workers Say Child Care Needs Undermining Their Jobs Amidst Covid-19

[March 24, 2020] LOS ANGELES – In light of the coronavirus pandemic that forced California schools and senior centers to close, more than 80 percent of healthcare workers report their ability to do their job is suffering because of child and elder care concerns, according to results of a statewide survey released today that shows the intense pressure these workers are facing.

To alleviate some of the stress, the healthcare workers are asking the State of California to offer various forms of child and senior care assistance during the crisis so they can focus on treating patients and avoid burning out or being unable to come to work because they have to take care of their families.

“We want to know our children and parents are safe while we’re at work caring for a growing number of coronavirus patients, because it’s hard for us to have the kind of laser focus we need when we’re constantly wondering if our kids or parents are okay,” said Angela Smith, a certified nursing assistant at Doctors Hospital in Manteca. “For as long as this crisis lasts, we need the maximum number of healthcare workers on the job and at their best, and that means we need to solve these child and elder care problems.”

To allay healthcare workers’ fears, they are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature to do the following:

  1. Allow healthcare workers and first responders to transfer the family leave granted to them under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed Congress and was signed into law earlier this month, to someone else who can care for their children;
  2. Create an emergency fund that healthcare workers and first responders can access to receive subsidized child care during the COVID-19 crisis; and
  3. Create more “pop-up” child care centers in public facilities like libraries, recreation centers and schools that are now vacant.

A large percentage of healthcare workers are experiencing high levels of anxiety about their children’s or parent’s well-being and how they are going to pay for child and elder care. The online survey of 565 workers across California was conducted March 21-22 by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, a union representing more than 97,000 healthcare workers in California.

The need for child and elder care is pervasive among healthcare workers. More than 80 percent of survey respondents said they have children younger than 14, and a third reported they are caring for an elder in their home.

More than a third of survey respondents said they have had to stay home from work because they do not have someone to care for loved ones, and nearly 69 percent said the uncertainty about child care is affecting their mental or physical health.

Finding child care is proving difficult, as 63 percent of healthcare workers say they are “scrambling” daily to secure someone to handle those responsibilities and 43 percent are unsure how they are going to afford it.