On Monday, February 28, 2022, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra participated in a roundtable discussion with members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri and Kansas. The union proudly touted its history of being organized and led by Black and Brown women. The focus of the conversation was to celebrate Black History Month, hear about the impact that home care and child care workers have in the care economy, and underscore both HHS’s and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to supporting the care economy workforce.
Participants from SEIU included the moderator, Greg Kelley, who serves as the President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri and Kansas, and several SEIU Executive Board Members who are also home care workers and child care providers.
In his opening remarks, Secretary Becerra congratulated the members of SEIU on the work they have done. He stated that “as the son of a union member – thank you for being part of an organized group that knows how to take care of each other.” Furthermore, the Secretary highlighted that “It’s time to elevate and appreciate those who do the toughest work, who provide the care and safety that our loved ones most need.”
Following testimonies from participants about how the COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to the importance of Home and Community Based Service (HCBS) providers, participants shared stories of the essential work they provide as caregivers. One participant emphasized that “we are building lives, building minds on young people.” Secretary Becerra reiterated the importance of the work child care and other HCBS providers do later in the discussion by noting “as Frederick Douglass said, ‘It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’”
In his closing remarks, Secretary Becerra thanked Greg Kelley for the discussion and stated “I hope everyone who has listened to these stories will remember these are the folks who make America work. Without them, families wouldn’t have elderly loved ones nearby, people couldn’t go to work due to lack of child care, and America would not work the same.” Greg Kelley closed the roundtable by reiterating that “Black history is American history,” and noted how important it is for working people to come together and share stories to help make this country even better.