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The Valuing Families Agenda: A MomsRising and Progressive States Partnership
Matt Singer on October 16, 2006 - 9:38am
Monday, October 16, 2006
In Today's Dispatch:
State Legislative Models Brought to You by Progressive States and MomsRising
What would a policy that really values families look like?
Parents need real programs, not just rhetoric, that help them take care of their children or sick family members and supports the decent wages and health care all families need.
Here's the good news: progressive leaders across this country have been enacting policies to help American families and, while no state has pulled all the elements together, there is a pretty good blueprint for a policy program that values families out there. Teaming up with MomsRising, the Progressive States Network has pulled these policies together in a set of on-line resources, including legislation, articles, research reports and other resources, to help legislators and advocates bring these policies to your states.
You can find these State Legislative Models at:
The agenda is based on the groundbreaking book The Motherhood Manifesto by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. Don't have a copy yet? Support Progressive States' efforts to advance this agenda in the states and receive your copy for free.
We invite you to explore these online resources, but here is a quick tour based on MomsRising.org's M*O*T*H*E*R typology of issues:
M: Maternity/Paternity Leave (Family Leave)
While the 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was a significant advance for working families, since it gave a large number of employees the right to take up 12 weeks off to care for a new child or take care of a sick family member. Unfortunately, the law has some severe limitations, applying only to workplaces of 50 or more employees and providing only for unpaid leave, meaning many families can not afford the lost income in taking advantage of the program.
States have responded with a number of innovative programs to address these gaps, including
O: Open Flexible Work
While family leave helps families deal with large events like birth, adoption and major illness, employees also need more day-to-day flexibility from their workplaces to deal with the everyday needs of their families. States have adopted a number of innovative flexible work programs, including:
T: After-School Programs
With the parents of 28 million school-age children working outside the home, only 6.5 million K-12 children (11%) participate in after-school programs. But states are increasingly making it a priority to expand after-school programs to enrich student academic achievement, prevent crime, and ease the burden on working parents. Additionally, the No Child Left Behind Act increasingly requires states to provide after-school programs to help underperforming students.
H: Health Care for All
Millions of Americans, including children, lost health insurance coverage in recent years-- with the percentage covered by employer-provided coverage dropping from 63.6% in 2000 down to 59.8% by 2004. That was 11 million less than if coverage rates had stayed the same.
In response, states are promoting a variety of models to expand coverage to make sure children and their families have health care, including expanding Medicaid & SCHIP programs, enacting comprehensive plans to cover all kids, reinforcing employer-provided health care coverage, and promoting universal health plans for everyone. Some outstanding models include:
E: Excellent Child Care
For parents who work, peace of mind is knowing their children are in quality child care and early education programs. For single mothers particularly, 79% of whom are in the workforce, decent programs for kids during work hours are a lifeline. And not only do such programs support working families, but they are critical investments in the workforce of tomorrow. Since child care and early education systems vary so widely across different states, the models in this section promote policy guidelines, rather than particular legislative language, including:
R: Realistic and Fair Wages
The reality for working Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant for over three decades. The federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, has steadily declined in the last forty years. Yet states are promoting policies to make sure work pays a living wage, including:
Explore the Resources: These are just the highlights of the online resources MomsRising and Progressive States have worked together to bring you. Go online and explore. And remember, we are here to help legislators and advocates looking for help in bringing these policies to your state.
Eye on the Right
Go to college. Get your degree. Get a good-paying job. That's supposed to be the path to success in America, right? So why are we forcing single mothers to work 30 hours per week on top of attending college and raising a family in order to remain eligible for government assistance? Under new implementation of welfare reform, single mothers are being forced to either shelve hopes of a better life for their families or spend 45-50 hours per week working, neglecting critical time when they should be raising their children. That's a recipe for long-term disaster and it is plainly bad public policy.
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