Recap | Insights 2022: Treating Care Workers as Essential, Not Invisible

Each year the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute hosts an annual policy conference to inform policy discussions during the state’s Legislative Session. For the second year in a row, this annual policy conference was both free and virtual. This year’s conference focused on how Georgia can better support our care workers, many of whom are women of color. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored how critical these roles are, yet the workers who fill these roles are often treated as invisible in the policy space. 

Opening Session: A Conversation about Georgia’s Care Ecosystem

Our opening session was moderated by GBPI Senior Policy Analyst Ife Finch Floyd and featured ProGeorgia Executive Director Tamieka Atkins and Georgia Familias Unidas Acting Executive Director María del Rosario Palacios. They discussed the current landscape for workers in Georgia, with a focus on Black women care workers as well as Latinx workers in North Georgia. Both spoke about their personal experiences and the work their organizations do to advance worker power, economic justice and racial equity.

You can view the entire panel here.

Panel: Improving Equity, Pay and Working Conditions for Child Care and Pre-K Workers in the Caring Ecosystem

Moderated by GBPI Senior Policy Analyst Jennifer Lee, this panel explored structural issues in child care, as well as how federal American Rescue Plan funds sent to Georgia have been spent. Panelists, including Brittany Collins, Director of PAACT: Promising All Atlanta Children Thrive at Georgia Education Alliance for Ready Students; Elisabetta Kasfir, Deputy Commissioner for Federal Programs at Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning; Maritza Morelli, Executive Director of Los Niños Primero; and Dr. Stephen Owens, Senior Policy Analyst at GBPI, also discussed how disinvestment, the pandemic and high costs have compounded to put child care access out of reach for too many people of color and how pre-K can be better supported in our state.

You can view the entire panel here.

Panel: Supporting Health Care and Elder Care Providers Across a Challenging Ecosystem

This panel, moderated by GBPI Research Director David Schaefer, dove into the systemic barriers facing health and elder care workers—many of whom are women of color—as well as opportunities to learn from the pandemic to build a more equitable future. Georgia Watch Director of Policy and Access Natasha Taylor, Atlanta Regional Commission Manager of Aging and Health Resources Becky Kurtz and State Independent Living Council of Georgia Executive Director Shelly Simmons shared their expertise. Panelists outlined that to support these workers, Georgia policymakers need to support health care access, living wages so that care workers do not need to work multiple jobs and other investments. These workers are essential, and must be treated as such.

You can view the entire panel here.

Keynote Panel: Building an Equitable Care System that Sustains and Heals

Our dynamic keynote panel, moderated by GBPI Senior Policy Analyst Ife Finch Floyd, explored trends across the caring ecosystem, specifically looking at targeted approaches to support Black women. Family Values @ Work Executive Director Josephine Kalipeni, National Partnership for Women and Families President Jocelyn Frye and YMCA of Metro Atlanta CEO and President Lauren Koontz discussed the need to treat all care workers as essential, the problems those who provide care face when that work is devalued and the investments needed to support care infrastructure.

You can view the entire panel here.

Networking Sessions

Attendees interested in discussing economic justice, health care and education were able to join networking breakout sessions where they could connect with other attendees and collaborate on opportunities to create policy change in Georgia.

Advocating for Inclusive Policies to Advance Racial Equity: A Grassroots Training

In the evening, GBPI Director of Strategic Campaigns and Outreach Erin Robinson was joined by Rachel Shanklin of Small Business Majority, Shanda Neal of 9to5 Georgia and Fenika Miller of Black Voters Matter for a grassroots training on how to advocate for policy change. Attendees heard how each organization approaches advocacy and had the opportunity to think through a lobbying exercise related to GBPI’s People-Powered Prosperity campaign.

Panel: Connecting the Dots: How the Dollars Drive the Change

Danny Kanso, Senior Tax and Budget Policy Analyst, opened up our panel with an overview of the FY 2022 and proposed 2023 state budget. He referenced research outlined in our 2022 Budget Primer and our new overview of Georgia’s 2023 Fiscal Year Budget. Following Danny’s presentation, Rose Scott, reporter and host of Closer Look (WABE), moderated a conversation with Georgia legislators Senator Tonya Anderson, Representative Sharon Cooper, Representative Sam Park and Senator Larry Walker on how the state budget and incoming federal dollars can address pertinent issues, such as expanding access to health care for rural Georgians and supporting state employees during and beyond the pandemic.

You can view the entire panel here. The presentation is available here.

GBPI Policy Analysts Panel: Racial Equity and the Budget

GBPI policy analysts gave an in-depth exploration on specific areas of the governor’s proposed budget, including worker justice, human services, health care, higher education, K-12 education, revenues and the criminal legal system. Analysts detailed how these dollars spent either impede or advance racial equity.

You can view the entire panel here. The presentations are available here.

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