After Angelena Taylor’s father survived a stroke in late 2015, she snapped into crisis mode.
A month into a master’s program for educational psychology, Taylor, now 33, took unpaid leave from her job. She didn’t want to send her dad to a facility, and his private health insurance didn’t cover home-care services, like help with bathing and meals, she said. So Taylor took on the primary responsibility for his care herself, managing everything from appointments to medication, spelled for half-day breaks by a professional home-care worker for up to $400 a week out of pocket.
Now, in the pandemic, that outside assistance has no longer been feasible. While Taylor managed to graduate on schedule, her caregiving and remote teaching work have kept her from completing one final step to launch her career: studying for board examinations to become a licensed clinician.
Amid a devastating pandemic, and at an inflection point on systemic racism, caregiving in the United States is emerging as a quiet but massive driver of inequity for women — and for women of color like Taylor in particular. Women of color are more likely to be underpaid professional caregivers and unpaid family ones, and Black and Latino people become caregivers nearly 10 years earlier, on average, than their White peers, a 2015 AARP report found. They may take on such roles earlier as relatives experience higher burdens of chronic injury, illness and lower life expectancies as a result of structural racism, experts say.
What my research participant made clear to me that day is that the lack of robust and accessible social programs for long-term care is merely a...