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MS. MAGAZINE OPINION: Build Back Better Would Be a Game Changer

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On Jan. 6, 2022, Ms. Magazine published an opinion piece that I co-wrote with MomsRising partner, Women’s Economic Justice Director and The Century Foundation Senior Fellow Julie Kashen: The U.S. Is in Urgent Need of Childcare Solutions. Build Back Better Would Be a Game-Changer

In the opinion, we had the honor of sharing child care stories from MomsRising, Family Forward Oregon, and Community Change families:

  • Julie, a teacher scrambling for care for her toddler
  • Arielle, a veterinarian straining by the financial burden of unpaid parental leave
  • Jessica, a childcare worker who cannot afford childcare herself
  • BriTanya, a childcare director barely keeping her center open

For these moms, and for millions of other families and caregivers throughout the U.S., the Build Back Better Act would be life-changing, putting an end to waiting lists, impossible commutes and childcare costs that rival college tuition.

Below is an excerpt from the opinion…get the whole story here and TAKE ACTION to solve child care!

The United States has not prioritized childcare. Even before the pandemic, many families could not find childcare when and where they needed it. More than half of all families lived in childcare deserts, and those who didn’t faced exorbitant prices. That’s gotten even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who can afford childcare, extremely high prices take a toll—many families pay more than mortgage payments or rent for care. It’s unacceptable. That’s why the Build Back Better Act will be a game-changer for parents across the nation, lowering prices and increasing the supply of high-quality care at the same time…

The Build Back Better Act would be life-changing.

  • Under the legislation’s provisions, Julie and her family would pay as little as $367 per month, resulting in over $5,000 in savings annually, and even more when her son is old enough for free preschool.
  • Arielle’s oldest would also benefit… 

KEEP READING: The U.S. Is in Urgent Need of Childcare Solutions. Build Back Better Would Be a Game-Changer


BONUS! Here's one of the storytellers from the opinion, Julie, using our Soapboxx story platform to share how the pandemic has impacted her family. 

Brand New Breaking Through Podcast: Saving Our Democracy

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On the radio show this week, we cover the ways in which our democracy is under attack and how we can fight back; as well as the latest with the pandemic, childcare and schools closing, and legislation to lift us all (Did someone say Build Back Better Act?); and we also cover how we can elect the best candidates possible— or how you can even run for office yourself.

 

*Special guests include: Jana Morgan, Declaration for American Democracy, @DFADCoalition; Melissa Boteach, National Women’s Law Center, @NWLC; Barbara Arnwine, Transformative Justice Coalition, @TJC_DC; and Erin Vilardi, Vote Run Lead, @VoteRunLead

 

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Calling all New Yorkers: Let’s win on child care!

I’m a mom from Queens, NY. I’ve always relied on child care to take care of my children while I worked outside the home. I know all too well how expensive it is, and how many parents are left with few options that are affordable and in their communities. I was one of the unfortunate parents who lost their child care when our center permanently closed due to COVID. I know that families all over New York State are suffering – child care across our state is unaffordable  and many times, not accessible. Our families deserve better. 

Tell New York lawmakers that it is time to make bold investments in child care! 

Why now? Because last week, Governor Hochul laid out her plan for New York in her State of the State address. Sadly, Governor Hochul’s proposals on child care fell short of the bold investments we need in New York State.  

We need investments that honor and recognize the amazing people caring and educating our kids. As a parent who has relied on child care workers to be able to work outside the home, I want the people that take care of my children to be able to take care of their families; that means, having access to living wages and good working conditions. 

Bigger investments to support our child care workforce are a must. 

Right now, Governor Hochul’s proposed investment of $75 million of unspent federal funds for workforce, while an important start, falls short. Early educators, many of whom are women of color and immigrant women, have one of the most important jobs in our communities, but most are not making family supporting wages. Many qualify for public assistance, and don’t have access to affordable healthcare or other benefits like paid time off. Their median income is $30,000.  That is not okay. As New Yorkers, we know this is barely enough to make ends meet with our living costs being so expensive across New York. 

NOW is the time to make transformative, life-changing investments in child care and pave the way for universal child care in NYS.

I know all too well how expensive child care is in New York. The median cost for child care in NY is reported at about $13,500 a year,  but in some communities, it is much higher. In my own neighborhood, parents pay anywhere from $1,200 - $2,400 per month for child care. 

Finding affordable and accessible childcare has always been a struggle, but COVID has exacerbated the issue. New York lost more than 9,500 licensed child care slots from 2019 to 2020. Between April 2020 and Feb 2021, over one thousand child care providers in NY closed. That is A LOT of lost child care. 

New York State must invest now to make sure our child care system works; that parents are able to afford care, and that early care educators are able to make living wages. 

*Tell Governor Hochul to act NOW to make bolder investments for our parents, children and early care educators ASAP!

Together we can help get New York on the path to universal child care.

Help save lives, end racial & ethnic maternal health disparities and promote birth equity!

Adult hand holding a baby's hand

YOUR voice, your petitions, your calls are working! The House of Representatives took action to ensure historic investments to save moms' lives, end racial & ethnic maternal health disparities, and advance birth equity by passing the Build Back Better Act. Now it is time for the Senate to do the same and we must keep the pressure on!

-> TAKE ACTION NOW - tell your Senator to support critical investments in maternal health in the Build Back Better Act!

Right now, the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world, [1] with major racial disparities with Black women losing their lives at 3 to 4 times more than the rate of white women due to maternity-related causes, independent of age, economic background, or education.[2] This is a fact that has not changed for several decades.[3]

The Build Back Better Act includes critical investments to end our nation's maternal health crisis including key elements of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus to address health disparities. And great news! It just cleared its first major hurdle in Congress. The Build Back Better Act will:

  • Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives maternity care and support from people she can trust;
  • Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition;
  • Invest in maternal mental health care and substance use disorder treatments;
  • Address the impacts of climate change on maternal and infant health outcomes;
  • Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women;
  • Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives maternity care and support from people she can trust;
  • Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it;
  • Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas;
  • Invest in reducing maternal mortality and require Medicaid and CHIP to cover full benefits for one year for pregnant and postpartum women. This, along with other key provisions of the Momnibus legislation makes over $1 billion in historic investments in the health and care of moms.

-> Add your name to our letter urging the Senate to support these historic investments in the Build Back Better Act to save the lives of moms!

We know that at least 60% of maternal deaths can be prevented, and infant mortality reduced, with investment in public policies and culturally competent care. Together we can tackle this crisis. Keep the pressure on and help ensure that every person that gives birth has a safe and healthy experience and the opportunity to watch their child grow up and thrive.

Support the Women’s Health Protection Act

Many of us had a pit in our stomach as we watched the arguments last month at the U.S. Supreme Court on the fate of Roe v. Wade. Those justices will decide whether millions of people will lose access to abortion and the reproductive care they need. It’s past time for lawmakers to act to protect our reproductive rights! 

Tell your U.S. Senator to protect access to reproductive healthcare and guard against medically unnecessary abortion restrictions by co-sponsoring and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).

Here’s the scoop: Last month the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments by the state of Mississippi as they continued their direct and aggressive effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. Then the Court failed us, again, by upholding SB8the most extreme anti-abortion bill Texas has ever seen. This Texas bill outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, causing even more grave and irreparable harm to women and families in the state who need care. In both the Texas and the Mississippi cases, at least four of the court's conservative justices (and counting) have suggested that they are prepared to overturn Roe on the grounds that it was wrongly decided, despite the public's decades of reliance on it. [2]  While we hope that the Supreme Court will strike down these unjust and dangerous laws, we can not rely on the current justices to protect our reproductive rights. The urgency is clear. 

The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect the right to abortion throughout the United States and guard against the medically unnecessary abortion restrictions being pushed forward by state politicians. Even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, WHPA would establish a statutory right to provide and receive abortion care.

Our lawmakers need to hear that protecting our reproductive rights is a high priority for moms and the people who love them. That’s why we organized on the ground and on social media, and rallied with our partners in Mississippi while the oral argument in D.C. took place. We (safely) hand-delivered over 300,000 signatures from organizations like SHERo Mississippi, MS in Action, UltraViolet, MoveOn, NARAL, Catholics for Choice, and National Council of Jewish Women to our members of Congress at the Capitol – to both legislators who support WHPA and those that don’t. 

It’s not too late for you to join our efforts and urge your Senator to support, too. Click here to sign on! 

*When you click, you’ll automatically sign on to our petition that reads:

Dear Senator:

As one of over a million members of MomsRising, I am writing to ask that you co-sponsor and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) to ensure our right to reproductive healthcare. The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is essential to social and economic equality, reproductive autonomy, and the right to determine our own lives. It is the only bill that promises to protect the right to access abortion care throughout the nation. Anyone who needs an abortion in the United States deserves quality, affordable medical care, and a relationship with their health care provider that is free from government intrusion. 

Abortion is a necessity, it is essential to each of our lives – Last year, we all witnessed the most extreme abortion-ban bill Texas has ever seen go into effect and is now law. The Court failed us, again, by not striking down SB8 when presented the opportunity. And we held our breath in fear that Roe v. Wade would fall in the state of Mississippi during the Dobbs v. Jackson MS oral arguments. It has become clear that the influence of bills like the one we saw in Texas is spreading far and wide.

People hurt most by abortion restrictions are those who already face barriers to accessing health care —particularly Black, Brown, Latino, Indigenous, and other people of color. At this very moment, there is no federal bill that protects abortion and access to it and if Roe were to fall today, millions of women and people would lose access to the abortion and reproductive care they need. WHPA safeguards these rights. Please support us by supporting WHPA.

The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act. Now is the time to pressure the Senate to pass it too. 

Everyone is watching. There will come a day when our children, students, and youth will ask what we did to fight for their reproductive rights during this unprecedented attack. We must continue to educate our family members, friends, and neighbors about what threats to reproductive rights in Mississippi and Texas means in states across the country. And we must demand that our elected leaders take action to protect our rights, regardless of what state we live in. 

Tell your Senator to safeguard against harsh bans and medically unnecessary restrictions by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act!

Our bodies. Our choices. Our rights.

Top #5Actions of the Past Week: Friday, January 14, 2022

Sign on to the Women's Health Protection Act

It’s the first #5Actions of 2022: Last year, despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we did some amazing things together. You took over 1,400,000 actions, made 60,000+ phone calls, submitted over 4,000 letters to the editor, and so much more.

Now, in 2022, there’s more work to be done to build the care infrastructure we all need in the Build Back Better programs, including maternal health equity, childcare and Pre-K, paid family and medical leave, extend the monthly Child Tax Credit checks, and expand home- and community-based services; as well as to protect our reproductive health, save voting rights, end police violence and hold them accountable, and make sure the priorities of American families are advanced in our nation’s capital.

You can help by taking these #5Actions!

-- Sue Anne, Kristin, Diarra, Kelsey, Tina, and the rest of the MomsRising / MamásConPoder Team

 

pregnantbreastfeedingCOVID22

How has COVID affected your pregnancy or breastfeeding experience or of someone that you love?

Everyone who becomes pregnant, gives birth, and who is breastfeeding should have access to a safe, healthy, and respectful experience, even (and especially) during a pandemic. This situation is constantly evolving, and your personal experiences can make a HUGE difference in helping decision makers and elected leaders understand how to best meet the needs of new moms and babes, and ensure healthy outcomes for all. This is why we need YOUR story.

Share how COVID has affected you or someone you love.

 

 maternalhealthBBB_Senate

Urge your Senator to Support Critical Investments in Maternal Health in the Build Back Better Act!

Right now, the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world, with major racial disparities where Black women lose their lives at 3 to 4 times the rate of white women due to maternity-related causes, independent of age, economic background, or education, a fact that has gone unchanged for several decades. If we’re going to save our moms, we need everyone to be a part of the solution.

We know that at least 60% of maternal deaths can be prevented and infant mortality reduced with investment in public policies and culturally competent care. Together we can tackle this crisis.

TAKE ACTION NOW -> Tell your Senator to support critical investments in maternal health in the Build Back Better Act!

 

 WHPA2022

QUICK SIGNATURE: Support the Women’s Health Protection Act

Here’s the scoop: Last month the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments by the state of Mississippi as they continued their direct and aggressive effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. Then the Court failed us, again, by upholding SB8, the most extreme anti-abortionbill Texas has ever seen. In both the Texas and the Mississippi cases, at least four of the court's conservative justices (and counting) have suggested that they are prepared to overturn Roe on the grounds that it was wrongly decided, despite the public's decades of reliance on it. While we hope that the Supreme Court will strike down these unjust and dangerous laws, we can not rely on the current justices to protect our reproductive rights. The urgency is clear.

Take action now and urge the U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which will protect our reproductive rights, regardless of what state we live in.

STAND UP FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

 

 PoliceFreeSchools_Storybook_2022

Share Your Story About Police In Schools

The current climate of schools in America is one of fear and intimidation by police. In place of health professionals, such as counselors, phycologists, and nurses, schools continue to heavily fund police to handle remedial offenses. Data has shown that students who are convicted of crimes based on remedial offenses are at higher risk for experiencing physical, emotional, and mental trauma, and are more likely not to re-enroll in grade school. Help MomsRising reimagine school safety by sharing your own experiences of police in schools and alternatives.

SHARE your experiences of police in schools and alternatives to school safety.

 

 police_violence_and_accountability

End Police Violence!

Police violence is an epidemic that is so entrenched in American society that we as a people have become desensitized to it. There needs to be a change. Support MomsRising as we take a stand against police violence and share your own experiences.

SHARE your experiences of police violence and accountability.

Brand New Breaking Through Podcast Episode: Hope in 2022!

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On the radio show this week, we cover what’s really going on with the Build Back Better Act right now, including the Child Tax Credit, paid family/medical leave, childcare, and pre-K.  We also dive into the latest on women and the economy and cover the fight for voting rights.  All through the show, we share how YOU can make an impact to help move public policy forward that lifts everyone — and why no matter what’s happening, there’s still hope!

 

Our special guests include: Olivia Golden, Center for Law and Social Policy (Clasp), @CLASP_DC; Ruth Martin, MomsRising, @MomsRising; Dr. Nicole Mason, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR); and Eric Reidar and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner.

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NEW parent fellowship: join us in Allegheny County!

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Are you eager to be a more powerful and effective advocate for parents and families in Allegheny County? Eager to learn more about the challenges facing working families, and how to engage your community, legislators, and even the media? We've got you covered! MomsRising is launching a new leadership program for parents and caregivers in Allegheny County.

Check it out here!

This is a doable experience that will fit into your busy schedule. Fellows will participate in monthly meetings and coaching calls, plan impactful community events, meet with local leaders, and more. We'll focus on issues including early learning, maternal justice, and and paid leave, and cover topics like public speaking, event planning, writing for the paper, tuning into your own power and positionality, and much more. You'll leave feeling more comfortable and confident speaking out about issues you care about, and with a strong community of fellows beside you. 

The commitment is about 4 hours/month for 10 months, and there's a volunteer stipend too. We'll meet online and in person (when we can). Scroll down for more information, and click here to apply!   

Here's why we're doing this: Parents have played a central role in demanding and winning tremendous investments in early learning, paid leave, and more. We know firsthand that our families, schools, businesses, and communities are suffering. While we’ve made great progress, we all know there is much more to do. 

Click here to get more information and apply. We're accepting applications through January, and the program will start in mid-February. 

You are a superhero, whether you’re a new or seasoned advocate. And we’re here to help you expand your superpowers. Fellows will meet virtually to share our experiences, build skills, and launch strategic actions to educate our communities and influence lawmakers. We'll cover topics including:

  • Understanding how policies and budgets pass at the federal and state levels; 
  • Tips for engaging friends and neighbors around issues you care about; 
  • Strategies for crafting fun and impactful events that get noticed;
  • Exploring your position and power within the movement, and how to center equity in your work.

Fellows will leave with renewed confidence and hard skills to be leaders around issues they care about. 

Click here to get more information!

Here are some additional details:

  • WHEN: The Fellowship will start in mid-February, and run through the beginning of next year. We’ll have monthly virtual meetings, and hopefully some in-person meet-ups too. Virtual meetings will take place on Sunday late afternoon or Wednesday evening. All sessions will be recorded in case you have to miss any. 
  • HOW: We’re meeting virtually. Fellows should have access to a device and reliable internet connection. Sessions will be held in English. 
  • WHO: This experience is intended for parents and caregivers in Allegheny County, PA. 
  • Fellows will receive a $750 volunteer stipend to support their participation in this experience.

Come join us, and play a key role in our efforts demanding meaningful relief that truly helps Pennsylvania families. 

Honor DEMOCRACY! Sign to support voting rights!

Whatever our background, color, or zip code, in America we value our freedom: the freedom to have a say in our elections, to have our voices heard, and to have our votes counted! Our nation is better and stronger when each and every person is engaged in the future of our country through voting. And right now is a critical time for our democracy.

SIGN ON! Help protect our democracy, tell your members of Congress to protect everyone’s right to vote!

What’s happening? The violent and deadly attack on our Capitol on January 6th, 2021 demonstrated how fragile our democracy is—and how close we were to having the will of the voters overturned. Even after historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, with nearly two-thirds of eligible voters casting a ballot, there are still those who are working to defy and overrule the will of the people!

Now, as we observe the one year anniversary of one of the most violent attacks on our nation in recent history, it’s clear there is much work to do to make sure that we protect our democracy. Despite a global pandemic during the 2020 election, voters turned out in historic numbers, and part of that is thanks to protocols that made access to the polls safer and easier with options like mail-in voting and drive-thru voting. But some Republican state leaders who are unhappy with the results of the election have been eliminating those options entirely, and working to make voting more difficult overall. Last year alone 19 states enacted 34 laws that will ultimately make voting harder for voters in their states and hundreds more anti-voter laws are being considered.

That’s not OK! These dangerous laws restrict primarily voters of color from having their vote counted, enact extreme partisan gerrymandering, and make it easier for state leaders to remove nonpartisan election administration officials so they can be replaced with partisan allies. That’s dangerous for everyone!

*Sign-on ASAP to help protect our democracy, our right to vote, and to push forward the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the U.S. Senate!

This is a turning point for our nation and our Senate leaders must exercise their majority and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act immediately. These bills have the most significant anti-corruption provisions and voting rights protections in generations. They would:

  • Ensure that everyone can vote in safe, accessible, transparent elections - and that everyone's vote is counted.
  • End dark money in our political process so that billionaires can’t buy elections.
  • End partisan gerrymandering so that voters pick their representatives instead of representatives picking their voters
  • And defend the will of the voters against efforts to sabotage or overturn our election, including protecting voters from intimidation and trusted local election officials from harassment so they can count every vote.

Will you help honor our democracy and protect voting rights nationwide? Don’t forget to add your name!