CareAcademy: A Watershed Moment for the Labor of Black Women

Stefanie Thomas — June 11, 2020

We are witnessing a watershed moment as we publicly grapple both with an economic fallout from the pandemic and the widespread response to decades of police brutality on Black people. This tale of two viruses — "da 'rona" and racism — goes deeper than the number of lives lost disproportionately by race from the novel coronavirus. It is one where the lives of many of America’s direct care workers exist and where key contributors to our economy and public health have to make trade-offs between their own wages and wellness every day. This is the unseen labor of Black women, and now is the time to finally place it at the center of our imaginations.

That's why I'm excited that we've led the $9.5M Series A round for CareAcademy, a home care skills training, retention, and compliance software company with a bold vision to certify and create new career pathways for 1 million direct care workers by 2023. I could not be more humbled by the vision of Helen Adeosun (CEO) and Dr. Madhuri Reddy (CMO), two phenomenal female founders who are leading this charge in a $140 billion market where 60% of the labor force is women of color and half of those women identify as Black.

Now is the time that we fund the entrepreneurs who are prioritizing the economic contributions of these women. Now is the time to support those who are working to make sure these women are compensated for all that they do, not just for markets and industries, but for people and families. If today's companies are not building towards a world that is more equitable and just, then they are not truly building for change.

We've known, long before the hit of COVID-19, that large racial wealth gaps have persisted. We’ve known that they’ve widened and that economic opportunity continued to slip from the grip of the most marginalized, especially low-income Black women. According to the May 2020 report from the National Women's Law Center, the 16.5% unemployment rate for Black women has ticked up while the overall rate for the country has gone down. As the economy looks to gain its footing in a phased reopening, we know that this population of workers will continue to be hit with sustained job losses and limited opportunities for recovery.

This is personal too. Since 2009, when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I’ve witnessed the hard work, compassion, and sacrifice of those who’ve provided on-going care to my loved one. With limited or no overtime pay, sick days, transportation access, childcare, and weekends off, these women toil daily to care for seniors who are not their parents and to comfort families who are not their own. It’s time to build solutions that finally have them in mind.

The CareAcademy team is on a mission to upend the industry. Their software that supports agencies where they are most challenged and where worker training is critically needed — whether for smarter delivery of care in the field or as off-the-job education at home. In addition, workers can up-skill or specialize through specialty care certifications (e.g. dementia, diabetes, COPD) that lead to better pay and upward mobility. Beyond the efficiencies to be gained from software and the distribution of digital content, the team’s strategy for growth anticipates market shifts influenced by recent changes in Medicaid reimbursement rates, continued consolidation across more than 15,000 home care agencies, and the entrance of sector-adjacent payers with a desire to partner in home care.

As a mobile-first, field-based training and content delivery provider, CareAcademy serves over 500 agencies and has trained 110,000 caregivers on its platform. The value of CareAcademy is not simply in easing the administration of compliance for agencies, it is also a way of increasing access to required training and reminding the industry of the inherent value of workers — something that the system tends to forget.

With civil unrest outside my window for the senseless killings by police of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Philando Castile, and many others (#saytheirnames) — and with the world awakening to the acknowledgement that Black Lives Matter — I am reminded of the Black women who have cared for my grandmother. Their lives matter and their labor matters too. See them. Train them. Compensate them. And help build a just future for them — as workers, as caregivers, as women, as human beings.

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