Skip to main content

Tell Congress to BOOST and MAKE PERMANENT paid sick days and paid family and medical leave in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

text asking reader to contact legislators

I’ll get right to the point:

We have an emergency. The U.S. House and Senate will be voting soon, in a matter of hours, on the next COVID-19 package, and we need them to know we need *permanent* paid sick days and paid family and medical leave in the package.

→ Tell your members of Congress in the House and Senate to BOOST AND MAKE PERMANENT paid sick days and paid family and medical leave in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

We need paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave, for all of us to get through this crisis, and we need them for good. Both are essential during times of pandemics, but we also need these benefits permanently in place to support working families.

There’s no time to waste! Families are already in crisis. Tell your members of Congress in the House and Senate to BOOST AND MAKE PERMANENT paid sick days and paid family and medical leave in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

→ Add your name to our urgent letter to Congress! Now more than ever, we must remind elected officials that it is essential that everyone can care for themselves or a loved one during times of crisis. It's non-negotiable, and it's the right thing to do!

And when you do, please share a comment about why these measures mean so much to you. We know that stories have a profound impact on our legislators. It doesn’t have to be a long comment! Here’s an example of a story from one MomsRising member: “I am a dental hygienist. My colleagues and I are in a high risk profession. We are unable to work for at least 3 weeks. We are not sure how to navigate this. I can’t afford to be without a source of income.”

It's go time, friends.

THANK YOU for all you're doing. Please keep taking care of yourself and your loved ones. And remember we WILL get through this, together.

 

We Need to Address Our Nation's Urgent Maternal Health Crisis

When a crisis like coronavirus (COVID-19) erupts, it puts a further strain on ongoing public health and social issues. As the Guttmacher Institute points out “the specific risk to pregnant women and their infants is not yet clear, but these groups are often particularly vulnerable to infectious disease threats. Therefore, many experts say an enhanced focus on primary prevention for pregnant women is warranted.”

Unfortunately, the current state of maternal health in our country already isn’t so great, especially for Black women and Native families and communities. MomsRising member, Alia, who shares:

“That’s the moment I thought I was going to die. I was too far gone to feel fear, but I did feel an overriding sense of regret. What a shame, I thought, that we’ll never get to raise those beautiful children together. What a shame that my children, whom I already love so much, will never know their mother.”

Like too many Black moms, Alia almost lost her life to childbirth. Alia survived, but too many moms in our nation do not. Every person giving birth deserves as safe and healthy of an experience as possible and should have the opportunity to watch their child grow up and thrive. Every child should have a chance to have their mother by their side.

**Sign NOW to tell your members of Congress to support The Black Maternal Health Momnibus!

Right now, the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world,[2] with major racial disparities where Black women lose 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.[3] This is a fact that has done unchanged for several decades.[4]

Kira Dixon-Johnson, for example, was in excellent health with no pre-existing conditions when on April 12, 2016, she delivered a healthy baby boy. Within 24 hours, however, Kira would lose her life after bleeding internally for over ten hours due to a lacerated bladder.[5] For ten hours her pain and her voice were ignored. For ten hours her family begged for medical intervention to no avail. Kira’s death was preventable and her story illustrates a tragic reality for too many Black moms in our country. Racial disparities in care are needlessly costing lives, and sending babies home without their moms.

This is why we need YOUR support to get the Black Maternal Health Momnibus passed by Congress. This packet of legislation takes urgent, serious action to end this crisis by building on existing legislation in Congress to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis.

**Tell Congress, support the most comprehensive legislative effort yet to address the Black maternal health crisis in America!

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus is composed of nine individual bills sponsored by members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and Senator Kamala Harris. The legislation will:

  • Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition;
  • Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women;
  • Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing women veterans and invest in VA maternity care coordination;
  • 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 maternal mental health care and substance use disorder treatments;
  • Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated women;
  • Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas;
  • Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of health insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to 1 year postpartum.

**Add your name to our open letter to Congress to urge them to support this historic piece of legislation to save moms! 

Moms should go home and watch their children and families thrive. If we’re going to save our moms, we need everyone to be a part of the solution.

And we know that right now, hospitals and healthcare systems are already overburdened and the Coronavirus outbreak may get worse before it gets better. During this time, it’s important to take care of our most vulnerable populations, including pregnant and birthing patients. Bills like the Momnibus packet will help us to do this, and also set up the foundations we need to address future health crisis impacting our communities.

Together we are a powerful voice in the movement to save moms.

 

[1] The COVID-19 Outbreak: Potential Fallout for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The Guttmacher Institute.

[2] NBC News. U.S. is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world.

[3][4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. The Black–White Disparity in Pregnancy-Related Mortality From 5 Conditions: Differences in Prevalence and Case-Fatality Rates.

[5] The Washington Post. The crisis in America’s maternity wards. 

Wake Up Female Protagonists: COVID-19

If Octavia Butler were alive today, what would she sayIn her stories there were always female protagonists, she wrote herself into the story and took us with her. We are the earth loving sheros, the shape shifting elders, the isolated but actionable young women who somehow find places inside of ourselves that give us the courage (even if afraid) to take action. We are the ones who can find and build community under dire straits, who can supersede chaos to find love amidst it. If Octavia Butler were alive, I would be tuned into her channel because she would see what we refuse to. Never a sheep, always a Shepard, and a Black female one at that, she would notice what we overlook while obsessing over toilet paper, pillaging the frozen aisle, and binging on Netflix. 

I’m a conservative when it comes to certain things. Namely facts. I like numbers and how they tell a story and how that story can bring action. Good action, action based in data, not fear or neglect. Numbers rouse. Here are the numbers: in the last 2-plus months since it became public knowledge that COVID-19 existed as an unmanaged threat 1307 people in the United States have died from it. The U.S. is a county with 327.2 million people in it.

On average in the US 7,452 people die a day from pre-corona causes, and this is not a new number. In the United States, if we divide diabetes deaths equally over 12 months, 228 people die per day from diabetes alone. Yet there is no national guard, no national intervention, no state by state lockdown or stay in place orders. In the 911 attacks, 2,977 people died in one day but no one was told to stay home indefinitely. Even New York kept going amidst grief and tragic loss of life, with interstate transportation reopening by September 13th. And although the deaths caused in the US by diabetes and 911 don’t qualify as contagions, according to the CDC, the flu which does, caused an estimated 23,000 deaths in the US in the last 6 months. Sit with these numbers, go back and read them again. We need to understand what we are dealing with.

The state by state movement to order people to stay at home and to ban gathering-which is the crux of social change- is slowly isolating members of this country to their homes (up to 212 million at the time of this writing). While the idea is to flatten the curve, which seems to make sense, not all public health officials agree.

Covid-19, while quickly spreading and still mysterious, is not inherently deadly. In fact our hospital shortages, at no fault of the health care providers within them, may be more deadly than the virus itself.  Our broken systems, exculusionary policies, lack of equity and humane practices have always been the most deadly of all. 

The COVID-19 crisis deserves serious management, care to those most vulnerable, proper medical supplies and equipment, and kindness coupled with response ability from all of us. And, amidst possibilities of militarization, the presence of food rationing, and the potential erosion of civil libertiesit requires critical thinking too. Fear cannot be the primary lens through which we view COVID-19 because fear kills things, including our ability to think critically and anxiety can too. 

In this current climate which includes conversations about where in this country gun stores qualify as essential services, ( Ohio, Illinois and Michigan gun stores have been deemed essential while in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts they have not) we need to be paying attention. We are all under a lot of pressure but turning the power of analysis over to others and expecting them to hand us answers may not be the way through this storm. 

Let’s scrub the Netflix and mainstream social media out of the corners of our eyes and begin to rapidly ask new questions.  Read the background. We all need to be informed and engaged in the process of figuring this out. Keep washing your hands, loving your people, practicing kindness and strategic distancing but don’t tune out from your own deep knowing and common sense. We need women in order to survive not just this virus, but this moment in our country and our world. We need fact finding, politically savvy, truth telling, organizing, art making, unafraid women. Never sheep, always the Shepard. We have to change what we are looking at, or at the very least how we are looking at it. Tune in heroines, wake up femme and female protagonists. We need you.

 

 

 

Let Them Play - Why Play-Based Learning During COVID-19 Works

In a past professional iteration, I was an international educator. I taught stateside and abroad from PreK-university (business graduate school in fact), and had students from virtually every continent.

My educator journey was a charted blend of two parts exploration and experimentation, three parts building on prior knowledge, a huge dash of being open to where and how I could be of best service. Each position from class teacher to program director was approached with curiosity, intention, and open-mindedness that often looked like play. Yes, play - joyful, self-directed, interactive, collaborative, reflective work.

Play has always been regarded as an important vehicle for learning by early childhood education programs. Today, the value of this play is becoming more prevalent in the primary education system. Yet, when I heard a COVID-19 made homeschooler “pooh-pooh” the merits of educational play, I realized that we need to reassess the definition of play and build homeschooling programs, be they temporary or long-term that incorporate play as a means of achieving more effective learning.

The COVID-19 transition to home-learning was clearly not one planned. As schools quickly determined closure was a necessary next step, home and distance learning opportunities for students were patched together with a hope to maintain continuity. Yet, in some communities, school closure may last through the term and parents and educators will need to innovate home learning.

It is a proven fact that when children are left to their own devices (not their laptops and phones!) in an open and tolerant atmosphere where they are free to make their own choices, they learn better.
 

What is ‘play’?
Though there isn’t a set definition, ‘play’ has several typical characteristics:

  • It is pleasurable
  • It contains symbolic elements, like then they pretend play
  • Needs active participation
  • It is voluntary, where children are free to choose
  • It is process-oriented, players enjoy the process rather than the goal
  • It is Self-motivating

What is play-based learning?
Play-based learning is based on the natural desire of a child to engage in activities in accordance with his interests, skills, and strengths. The motivation to learn and develop a positive attitude towards learning is higher when the child initiates the play instead of following a teacher’s commands.

While the educator is not actively involved in leading the child in a play-based learning environment, her role nevertheless is very essential. They extend support to the children involved in their play through:

  • Conversations that expand children’s thinking
  • Creative a balance between the child-initiated and educator supported curriculum of learning
  • Creativity and inquiry practice that are intrinsically linked
  • Building up the appropriate environment that initiates and supports learning

Parent-educators must also be quick to recognize teachable moments and utilize strategies like demonstrations and shared thinking to utilize those.

Why is it important?
Play helps in shaping the structure design of the brain. When children are engaged in play, the active exploration involved helps in building and strengthening the neural pathways in the brain. Play enhances the brain’s flexibility and facilitates future learning with a higher potential.

Children who indulge in play learn to explore, identify patterns (social-emotional and academic), take risks, negotiate and understand concepts and specific content better. Their memory skills develop much better along with their language skills. In the long term, they are more adaptive towards an unstructured learning environment (think, project-based learning, STEM and even internships) as well as structured academic settings (think university, law or med school).

Why does it work?

  • First of all, it’s ‘play’.
  • Children are naturally drawn towards activities that do not indicate explicit learning. So while a child may not be interested in the blackboard or a book filled with words, he will play for hours with the alphabet blocks he finds. The magic occurs when parents/educators help the child make connections between say, building blocks and building words; or at the very least, suggest that connections can be made.
  • Children are full of intrigue. Given a safe environment to explore, they find their way and learn their lessons without much interference from adults. Children are natural iterators and problem-solvers. And for those older children who are working towards developing these attitudes and skills, age-appropriate “play-time” can offer opportunities for this maturation to occur.
  • Play-based learning builds on holistic best practices and differentiation - a.k.a. personalization. Experiencing helps in longer retention, so if your child is struggling to recall specific information, consider varying how the material is being presented and assessed. This requires you to adopt an open-minded and experimental approach as well.

Play-based learning works as it enhances the child’s sense of well-being and gives them a strong foundation to construct their own meaning and be responsible for their learning. All work and no play makes for a less evolved learner. This is perhaps one of the biggest lessons our global stay-at-home has taught us.

Let's not forget.

 

 

 

 

Why "Parents Just Don't Understand" Teens In Times of Stress

There are many baffling behaviors of teens.  For many parents of teens the behavior they could slightly tolerate is now exacerbated by the quarantine.  Watch Lina Acosta Sandaal, child development expert and psychotherapist and Cristy Clavijo-Kish, mom of twin teens,  explain the behavior and how to manage it while sheltering at home.

 

 

Originally Posted on 3/25/20 Facebook Live on the Los Tweens and Teens Page

Managing Remotely: Top Tips From Around the Web

Anita's picture
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A photo of a black desk with two laptops on it.]

Working from home is one thing. Working from home with kids and others to care for is another thing. And managing workers remotely is yet another skillset altogether.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources on this specific aspect of working from home. We've gathered here what we've found to be especially useful. Have another resource you've turned to? Please share in the comments below!

***

- MomsRising Vice President Ruth Martin shared a tipsheet from The Management Center as part of this post on working from home with kids. 

  • Key Takeaways: Stay nimble with communication; be clear about expectations; focus on output rather than activities. And don't expect business as usual in these turbulent times. Give yourself and each other grace. 

- Cali Williams Yost, expert on the future of work (and MomsRising blog contributor) shares key tips here

  • Key Takeaways: Keep it simple.  Start with where you are.  Be patient with yourself and others.  Reflect and learn from the experience while you are in it, because it will inform future change that will be inevitable after the crisis has passed.

- See this straightforward post from Harvard Business Review, How To Manage Direct Reports.

  • Key Takeaways: Clarity is everything! Clear expectations, a clear schedule of check ins that you stick to, clear feedback, and impromptu chats to clarify all contribute to a positive, productive remote workplace.

- And this quick list, 7 Things You Must Do To Effectively Manage Remote Workers, from CNBC.

  • Key Takeaway: Company culture matters, whether you're working in the same office or from home. There's a lot you can do to establish and maintain a healthy, supportive, and productive work culture.

- One more: Top 15 Tips To Effectively Manage Remote Employees from Forbes.

  • Key Takeaway: Treat remote as local! Remote workers sometimes lose out on opportunities that in-person workers have by virtue of being there in the office. Try to minimize the discrepancies by providing as much access to you, as the manager, as possible. (With everyone working remotely, this may mean setting up easy channels for access like Slack.)

Managers, it's your turn. Share your best tips for managing remotely in the comments below!

Explaining social distancing to kids

ruby's picture
Screenshot of Washington Post Corona Simulator

After screaming into the void about the desperate need for massive testing and rapid social isolation, we are now living that quarantine life. Like many parents I am trying not to terrify my child (and myself), but unlike many parents I will not sugarcoat things. Especially after spending decades talking about how our political leaders are failing us, I am not going to lie about the fact that we are all suffering now because those failures have come home to roost. And kids need to understand how this works so that they can act to protect themselves and everyone around them.

I know my child thinks I am going a little overboard with this quarantine business, so showed him a few visuals to help him understand. These were the most helpful things we looked at.

  1. Washington Post simulator showing the difference in infections between different policies such as partial quarantine and social distancing. washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/
  2. The now-ubiquitous #FlattenTheCurve chart show how rapid spread will overwhelm the medical system. This available everywhere, we looked at vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation
  3. A young man from Wuhan’s TikTok videos that show his experience in Wuhan (start at the last one). tiktok.com/@danielouyang

Unemployment Insurance Was Crucial To Workers And the Economy in the Last Recession

Twelve years have passed since the onset of what we call the Great Recession. Now, as the effects of the coronavirus-spawned COVID-19 pandemic send the U.S. economy hurtling into another recession, or possibly depression, and Congress wrestles with designing the components of an urgent policy response, it’s useful to take a quick look back at just how important unemployment insurance (UI) was for workers, families, and the economy overall in that last recession.

It is important to note that in the Great Recession unemployment rates were higher for Black and Latinx workers; with unemployment for Black workers exceeding 16 percent in early 2010 and unemployment for Latinx workers exceeding 13 percent in late 2009. This compares to 9.3 percent unemployment for white workers in that same period. Low-educated workers and marginalized workers, especially workers of color are more likely to lose their jobs during economic downturns and have less of a financial cushion than their respective more educated and white counterparts. Due to systemic injustices, Black unemployed workers have the lowest receipt of unemployment insurance, 23.8 percent compared to 33.2 percent for white people. The Great recession taught us that the racial and poverty-based gaps in receipt of benefits must be closed. Unemployment insurance was particularly crucial to helping Black workers, but we must continue to improve upon and expand eligibility for Black workers and all workers making low wages, which will require wider public education and policies that drive equity.

In 2008, Congress enacted the first of several significant, temporary federal extensions of unemployment insurance known as Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), with additional tiers of benefit weeks to supplement regular state UI and Extended Benefits (EB) programs. The recession was so deep and job losses so massive that in many states, these programs together (for a time) provided up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits to help jobless workers and their families. In the Recovery Act of 2009, Congress also boosted weekly benefit amounts for people with dependent children. Many states also acted responsibly, expanding eligibility and improving access to UI benefits.

Taken together, these programs and initiatives made unemployment insurance the single most effective policy response to the last recession—a fact that must not be lost on today’s policymakers.

Just how effective was unemployment insurance in the last recession?

With tens of millions of jobs now in peril, and workers facing unknown durations of joblessness and lost income, it is imperative that policymakers recall the critical role played by unemployment insurance in the last recession and provide a major, robust expansion of UI benefits sufficient to meet the nation’s needs.

This post was originally published on the NELP blog.

Join Moms On A Teletownhall TONIGHT For the ACA!

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A photo of an infant with a thin tube across his abdomen.]

Happy 10th anniversary to the Affordable Care Act!

I became an advocate for health care way back when the ACA was being considered, by sharing my family's health care story with an incredible organization called MomsRising.org.

When my son, Ethan, was born in 2006 we found out almost immediately that he would need to start chemotherapy for a benign vascular tumor that was trapping his platelets, and was therefore life-threatening. Because he needed 24/7 care and had a reduced immune system, I had to quit working to care for him... and therefore my family lost our health insurance.

We were incredibly fortunate that Ethan qualified for the North Carolina Medicaid program and I will forever be grateful that this "government funded health insurance program" helped to save my child's life.

But because I have a chronic kidney disease, and had some other minor health issues (what parent of a child going through chemotherapy doesn't have high blood pressure?) I was deemed uninsurable due to my pre-existing conditions.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I was finally able to get health insurance again and Ethan and I have been advocating for health care ever since. I turned my passion into a career and am the national director for health care at MomsRising.org. I now help families all across the country share their health care stories with government leaders so that they can truly understand how public health policies impact real families.

And I'm honored to represent MomsRising.org tonight on this tele-townhall hosted by Action NC to talk about the Affordable Care Act and why it's more important now than ever. Other speakers include Congressman David PriceCongressman G. K. Butterfield, Natalie Murdock, and Stacy Staggs from Little Lobbyists North Carolina. Join us at 7pm ET!

Call-in number: 877-229-8493
PIN: 118274