Statement of Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO, MomsRising, On the Women’s Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act
April 19, 2012
The recently drafted Women’s Option to Raise Kids Act – or the WORK Act – is a great way to get us on the right track for talking about how best to ensure that we, as a nation, truly value the work and contributions of all mothers and families. This bill recognizes that raising children is important and valuable work, and it would give moms who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families the same opportunity that some other women get – the opportunity to stay home to raise their own children for the first three years.
It’s time that we as a nation recognize that whether mothers' work is paid or unpaid, the work of caregiving is important to us all. Every day, moms are doing the hard work of raising children. This unpaid work involves making sure children get the nutrition, care, education, and health care they need to grow up to be healthy, thriving adults who are part of our nation's future economic success. In fact, there is an enormous amount of untracked, unpaid labor done by women that's fueling our economy.
Not everyone has the financial resources to be able to decide to stay home to raise children while remaining fiscally solvent. In fact, families with a stay-at-home parent are seven times more likely to live in poverty, and millions of moms don't have the option to choose to stay at home because their wages are needed to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of their families.
At the same time, research shows that children whose mothers are able to take time off in infancy derive significant benefits, including lower infant mortality rates, benefits from breastfeeding, and from the opportunity to bond their mothers. And healthier children are healthier adults, saving taxpayer dollars in the long run and creating a vibrant workforce for the future.
Too often mothers' work, paid and unpaid, is devalued. It shouldn’t be. More than eight in ten women in our nation will have children by the time they are 44. They are at all income levels, and their unpaid and paid work shouldn't be devalued simply because they are mothers.
The devaluation of mothers is at a crisis point in our nation. Take, for example, the wage hits that women endure simply for becoming moms: Women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, mothers make 73 cents to a man's dollar, and single moms make only about 60 cents to a man's dollar. Women of color experience increased wage hits.
There’s a lot of talk right now about moms and work. As this conversation moves forward, we also must talk about how to advance public policies that allow all families to thrive.
Legislation, like the WORK Act, provides important opportunity to expand a critical national conversation about truly valuing the unpaid and paid work of all moms – and about how our businesses, our economy, and our families can all succeed.