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ICYMI: Maine Prison Win, SCOTUS Saves ObamaCare AGAIN, Jason George Chats with Kristin

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Here's something positive for you...if you take two minutes to scan this post, you will NOT MISS some very cool and important stuff from the MomsRising universe from the past week. Enjoy, and keep rising! 

 

INSTAGRAM LIVE: Jason & Kristin Chat About Paid Leave for All

Paid leave saves jobs. Paid leave saves lives. We can and we must pass it this summer. Know more by checking out this Instagram Live with actor and activist Jason George and MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. 

 

STATEMENT: Our Country Will be Healthier, and Moms and Families Stronger, Because SCOTUS Refused to Strike Down the Affordable Care Act Today

"Today's 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court ruling is a major, meaningful victory for moms, families and our country." - MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner

 

STATEMENT: Decision to Close Maine Youth Prison a Victory for State's Kids, Families

"Incarcerating children is a failed pactice...We commend state legislators in Maine for their vote to close Long Creek Youth Development Center." - MomsRising National Director for Youth and Family Justice Beatriz Beckford

 

ACTION OF THE WEEK: Celebrate DACA's anniversary with a pathway to citizenship for immigrants

DACA is only a temporary bandaid! Urge Congress to protect DACA recipients by providing them with a pathway to citizenship in the next infrastructure and recovery package.

 

NATIONAL VACCINE MONTH OF ACTION: Black Engagement Week 

Throughout the week of June 14 - June 20, MomsRising joined forces with Made to Save, a national educational and grassroots campaign working to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, and the NAACP to promote awareness and actions that help protect Black communities. Find shareable tweets filled with helpful information here, here and here.

 

IN THE NEWS (The Associated Press): Latinas left workforce at highest rate, see slow recovery

"My hope is that those jobs really reconsider...paid family leave, paid sick leave, access to fair pay...so that we can really recover." - Vice President of MamasConPoder Xochitl Oseguera

 

 

FAQ: MomsRising Summer Postcards

Nate's picture

Thank you for helping to power our massive summer postcard campaign to let the US Senate know that we must build not only roads and bridges, but a CARE Infrastructure. You are helping bring us to the future that we know is possible. We are so grateful - thank you again!

> Signing Up for Postcards <

Where can I sign up for the summer postcard campaign to the US Senate?

The sign-up page for our current postcard campaign is here and may close at any time. Another way to help is to donate to help offset the cost of printing and postage.

How do I update my address before the cards are dispatched?

Use our online form to update your address by Wednesday, June 16th. Unfortunately, address changes after that date will not be honored. 

> Receiving Postcards <

I haven't received my postcards yet! When will they arrive?
Postcard packets are expected to be mailed in late June and arrive before July 4th.

Please note that address errors sometimes result in postcard packets that don't arrive. You can check your confirmation email for this campaign to see which address you signed up with. We are unable to send replacement packets of postcards.

> Writing Postcards <

Do I have to handwrite the message that MomsRising suggested in the instructions?
Yes, we hope that all volunteers will handwrite the message provided  on the instruction card. Please note that you can use the entire width of the postcard, above the the barcode and below the stamp section.

> Mailing Postcards <

My local post office said I need to buy stamps to mail the postcards – is this right?
A few volunteers have reported this happening. We want to assure you that the printed postage on the postcards is correct and valid. It is part of a USPS program called "Share Mail". Unfortunately, some USPS employees may not know about this fairly new postage program. We suggest that you simply drop your postcards in a blue USPS mailbox outside your local post office, or one that's located in your neighborhood. This way, your postcards will be accepted into the mail stream automatically and processed without delay!

> Other Questions <

Do I have to be a mom or parent to participate?
No – anyone and everyone is welcome to volunteer to write MomsRising voting reminder postcards!

Do I need to add stamps to the postcards and cover the cost of postage?
No, MomsRising is covering all postage costs to make this project fully accessible to everyone that is interested in participating. The postcards all have pre-stamped indicias.

I would like to make a donation to the summer postcard campaign. How can I do that?
Thank you so much for interest in donating! Here are a few ways to do so:

  • DONATE ONLINE HERE
  • SEND A CHECK to this address (include "Summer Postcards" in the memo line):

    MomsRising Together
    3717 Boston St #313
    Baltimore, MD 21224

Have other questions? Email us at postcards@momsrising.org

Wear Orange 2021: We’ve Kept Our Distance, but Bullets Have Not

Gloria Pan's picture
Wear Orange

June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month. Over the course of COVID, Americans have practiced social distancing in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities from risk of illness and death. But as we’ve been fighting one public health battle, another has been raging unchecked. In fact, our tragic and ongoing epidemic of gun violence has been reaching new heights.

Over the last year, as statistics from the Gun Violence Archive make clear, incidents of injury and death from firearms surged 20 percent from 69,090 in 2019 to 83,002 in 2020. Among children aged 0 to 17, incidents of injury and death surged 34 percent, from 3,814 in 2019 to 5,114 in 2020. The number of mass shootings, where 4 or more people were shot or killed (not counting the shooter), surged 46 percent, from 417 in 2019 to 610 in 2020.

And five months into this year, as of May 25, 31,882 people have been injured or killed by guns, 2,048 of whom have been children aged 0-17. We are on track to again average more than 10 mass shootings a week, with 230 mass shootings thus far.

With all this unspeakable harm and suffering due to too many guns (400,000,000!) in our homes and on our streets, why has our terrible gun violence epidemic been allowed to continue without a response from our leaders? Why have we as a country failed to take even the smallest step to curb our gun violence, such as passing universal background checks on gun sales, which 90% of American support?

The backdrop to the current surge in gun violence has been the legacy of Donald Trump. In November 2020, the FBI reported that hate crimes climbed 20 percent under the Trump administration. That trend was inspired and stoked by Donald Trump’s hateful and divisive language, the effects of which unfortunately continue to this day, manifesting in horrific incidents of racially motivated mass shootings by white men: In 2018, 11 people of the Jewish faith were shot to death at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In 2019, in the El Paso Walmart shooting targeting Latinos, 23 people died. Then just this March, the Atlanta shooting resulted in the deaths of 8 people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. A month later, four Sikhs died at the FedEx facility shooting in Indianapolis. 

Through all the headline-grabbing mass shootings, Black communities have continued to disproportionately bear the tragedy of daily gun violence. In its most recent analysis of homicide data, the Violence Policy Center reports that in 2018 (the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available), there were 7,426 Black homicide victims in the United States, accounting for 50 percent of all homicides though the Black community represents just 14 percent of the U.S. population. Of the Black homicide victims, 86 percent were killed with guns. 

It’s become crystal clear that gun violence in the United States is a civil rights issue. Racism, hate, xenophobia, and any violence against perceived “otherness” including gender, religion or sexual orientation or identity, all spring from the same toxic roots of patriarchal white supremacy, which is strengthened and backed up by ongoing structural white supremacy and ultimately by the lethal power of guns in white hands. The reason we can’t get a handle on our gun violence epidemic is because white supremacy wants to be armed and its champions in Congress will do everything in their power to make sure it stays that way. This includes opposing stronger background checks on gun sales and obstructing the confirmation of any new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a critical role for gun safety since the ATF director is the primary enforcer of gun policy. 

This June, we’ll wear orange and continue our fight against gun violence. But we must also fight the white supremacy that finds the devastation of gun violence an acceptable tradeoff for white men continuing to have unfettered access to firearms. We will never succeed in arresting and reducing our gun violence epidemic until we begin to dismantle the toxic and dangerous combination of white supremacy and guns. 

MomsRising is Taking a Weeklong Break. Here's Why.

Kristin's picture
Out of Office Graphic

Dear MomsRising Community,

We are officially closing MomsRising May 31 to June 4, 2021, to center staff Wellness.

As we reflect on all that we’ve been through and also accomplished over the past 14 months (together we engaged more than 72,000 get out the vote volunteers and helped pass national COVID-19 relief along with the Child Tax Credit that is set to help pull 50% of children out of poverty this year!), we are also preparing for all the work still ahead in the coming months to help build a Care Infrastructure and a nation where everyone can thrive. 

This weeklong closure is also part of MomsRising continuously working to reflect and model our national policy goals internally, including by closing for this week of Wellness. 

Thank you in advance for understanding. If you'd like to help us build the Care Infrastructure that our families, economy, and communities need and a nation where everyone can thrive; then you can start here.

With much appreciation, gratitude and love, 

Everyone at MomsRising

The Importance of Universal Paid Leave and Guaranteed Access to Child Care

Nina Perez's picture
Nina Perez and child.

Today I had the honor of speaking in front of the Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Ways and Means Subcommittee on behalf of MomsRising families to talk about why child care is so important to our communities. Below, you'll find my statement.

Grateful to all the moms and caregivers before me who have spoken to leaders in hearings for showing me I could do this and for continuing to urge leaders to prioritize the care infrastructure families need. It was nerve wracking, but worth it and I felt so much love and backup from the parents who have been speaking out on this issue for years. 

Want to join me in telling Members of Congress why care infrastructure like child care and paid family medical leave are so important? Share your story with them here.

I’m Nina Perez, the National Director of Early Learning at MomsRising. In my role at MomsRising I have the incredible honor of partnering with other mothers and caregivers to demand that all families have access to a comprehensive care infrastructure, including high-quality, affordable child care and paid family medical leave. The issue of child care is deeply personal to me. My own mother was pushed out of the workforce because she couldn’t find affordable child care and in the last two years sacrificed herself again by moving away from the community she had lived in for over 50 years to care for my daughter when I was unable to find child care. So for two generations, our child care system has failed my family. And that was before the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, like so many others, we lost our child care for close to a year in order to keep my parents safe until vaccines rolled out. To say it was a struggle is a massive understatement.

And my family was lucky. Lucky that our employers were flexible, and lucky that Congress enacted the Emergency Pandemic Leave Program. But the challenges mothers share with us at MomsRising paint a vivid, disturbing picture of the harm caused by decades of underinvestment in our child care infrastructure. 
 
Moms like Amanda, a MomsRising member in New Hampshire who has a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son with special needs. When the pandemic hit, her child care program closed and her son lost access to in-person therapies and services, dramatically increasing Amanda's caregiving responsibilities and her stress. Her employer was not accommodating, and she was forced to leave her job of 13 years that she loved in order to meet her kids' needs.
 
Amanda’s not alone. One recent study finds that 1 in 3 caregivers report being forced to reduce hours or leave the workforce altogether because of child care - with Black, Indigenous and women and moms of color affected the most. To put this in perspective, women were half of our paid labor force at the start of the pandemic but now workforce participation for women has plummeted to 1988 levels. These were much-needed jobs. Women in the United States are key breadwinners in most families. 

Even before the pandemic, mothers like Whitney in Washington state told us that she desperately needed child care for her 5-year-old daughter and infant son, but couldn’t find or afford it. She and her husband made it work by working ‘opposite shifts.’ And while the shortage of licensed child care in the United States is bad in general, a recent study from CAP found that there is only enough licensed child care to serve 23 percent of infants and toddlers like Whitney's son. That means there is not enough licensed care for 77% of our youngest kids. We also hear from families like Whitney’s that even finding the limited care options that exist is challenging and a huge mental strain, requiring hours and days of calls to providers only to find out no slots are available or they have closed. Families deserve better. 

And this is just part of the problem. While our child care system has relied on families paying unaffordable sums, the amazing early educators who care for children (many of whom are moms themselves) are being paid poverty-level wages. Caregivers and early childhood educators deserve respect and dignity for their valuable work. They deserve family supporting wages with benefits, like health care and paid family leave. They deserve fundamental work-related rights and protections. And the 1 out of 5 early childcare workers who are immigrants deserve a path to citizenship. And by making child care jobs sustainable, a robust child care system will not only be job enabling, but job creating. We also know that increasing wages leads to improved quality and continuity of care, which is so important to parents. 

We know you recognize that it’s not enough to build back to what we used to have. We need to build back better. 

The pandemic has shown what mothers all across the nation already knew, the child care crisis is a structural problem that needs solutions like those proposed in the Building an Economy for Families Act, including: 

  • measures to expand families’ access to high-quality, affordable child care with a significant increase in mandatory funding; 
  • additional targeted funding for child care facilities to build much needed supply; 
  • an increase in wages for child care providers; 
  • the Child Care Information Network to help families find child care; and 
  • the enactment of a paid family and medical leave program, which is so critical to early childhood. 

We look forward to working with Congress on the Building an Economy for Families Act and on putting our country on the path toward a just recovery by building the kind of care infrastructure that is so critical to families, communities, and our economy.

At 56 Head Start Remains Most Effective Tool to Increase Equity

Joel Ryan's picture

Early childhood education is rightly at the forefront of federal policy priorities, as we as a nation discuss how to “build back better” from an exhausting and chaotic 14 months – a global pandemic, a racial reckoning and a monumental election. 

As key decision makers draw up and debate various plans they would do well to understand how actual early learning programs stepped up and intervened during a year like no other to support families.

The Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP (WSA) recently released survey data, after asking Head Start sites to look carefully at the impact of COVID-19 on their families, their staff and their operating costs.  Almost 50 programs from across the state took the survey and shared their observations: 21% of parents had lost a job due to the pandemic and 16% of Head Start families were at least two months behind on rent. 

Since 1965, Head Start families have been proxy for the nation’s most vulnerable families – and our survey confirms the anecdotal accounts that the economic fallout from COVID-19 has and is continuing to hit lower-income Americans the hardest.  Lower incomes adults, especially those without a college degree and Black and Hispanic Americans, have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.  And to be sure, for them the financial pain of being unemployed, homeless and food insecure existed even before the pandemic – they have only been heightened.

The correlation between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and poverty was also well established, pre COVID-19.  ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood, as well as the conditions in a child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety and stability. Children of different races and ethnicities do not experience ACEs equally. According to Child Trends, before the pandemic 61% of black non-Hispanic children and 51% of Hispanic children nationally experienced at least one ACE, compared with 40% of white non-Hispanic children. In most regions of the country, the prevalence of ACEs was highest among black non-Hispanic children.

So when our COVID-19 impact survey found that at least 20% of children enrolled in Head Start have experienced increased mental health issues, we were alarmed and yet not shocked.  The important new federal funding being proposed in President Biden’s American Families Plan, and in a number of bills recently introduced in Congress, will be successful if they recognize Head Start as an essential component of the early childhood continuum that includes child care and universal preschool.  For 56 years this month, Head Start has been there for children and families living in poverty and beset with mental health challenges and put them on a better trajectory.    

The pandemic only deepened social and racial disparities and exponentially increased the number of vulnerable children and families.  The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that while 9% of young children live in deep poverty nationally, that figure doubles to 18% for young Black children and 15% for American Indian Alaskan Native children. 

Earlier this year, in Washington State, our lawmakers put forward a surprising and game changing step to finally confront centuries of systemic inequity: they made a significant investment in expanding access to early education and child care, in addition to an important increase in quality. Now it is the federal government’s turn.  Expanding access to Head Start and Early Head Start within new federal investments in early care education will ensure that we advance equity by generating outcomes for children that prepare them for success in school and in life and for families that lift them out of poverty.     

 

Protect babies and ban unsafe sleepers

Unsafe infant sleep products have been linked to at least 100 infant deaths.  It's time to ban these products from the market.

Next week, a vote will quietly take place on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. that pits babies’ lives against manufacturers’ profits. 

Consumer Product Safety Commissioners will vote June 2 on whether to finally remove from the market infant sleep products that have been linked to at least 100 infant deaths.

This vote truly is a life-and-death matter.  Since April 2019 when Consumer Reports uncovered that dozens of infant deaths were linked to inclined sleepers, the CPSC has analyzed these products, urged manufacturers to take action, developed proposed rules, and taken public comments.  Now it's time for the agency to take action. 

Unfortunately, the four-member Commission may be split on this vote, and a tie would mean the safety rule would not go into effect (a fifth Commissioner has yet to be nominated and confirmed). We know manufacturers are pushing hard to block this common-sense safety rule. 

Meanwhile these senseless tragedies have gone on far too long, as infants have continued to die in inclined sleepers and other unregulated sleep products. 

Parents who tragically lost children in these products have been lobbying the Commission and demanding action.  They've been joined by thousands of consumers who have sent messages of support, calling for a new rule to keep unsafe infant sleep products off the market and ensure all infant sleep products meet minimum safety standards before being sold. 

We need more parents to speak out! Please join us by signing this petition and help amp up the pressure before this critical vote.  We'll deliver your signature next week, along with thousands of others who want definitive action to get these unsafe sleep products off the market for good.  

 

Tobacco’s Devastating Impact on Women & Girls

TFK Report: Tobacco's Harms on Women and Girls

May is Women’s Health Month, and there is no better time to take action to help prevent tobacco use in women and girls and to help current tobacco users quit.

More than 16 million women and girls in the United States currently smoke, putting them at risk for serious and deadly diseases. Over 200,000 women die in the U.S. every year due to smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Meanwhile, youth e-cigarette use has skyrocketed to what the U.S. Surgeon General and the FDA have called “epidemic” levels, with nearly 1 in 5 high school girls in the U.S. now using e-cigarettes.

The tobacco industry has long understood the importance of recruiting women and girls as customers and has a long history of targeting them. Extensive market research on the attitudes of women has helped tobacco companies better understand how to target their products and advertise to this important group of potential customers. In the same way that tobacco companies have aggressively targeted Black Americans with campaigns for menthol cigarettes, they have targeted women and girls with specific brands and campaigns that use themes of beauty, sophistication, weight loss, fashion and freedom that continue today.

While the digital age has brought new tobacco products and tactics, the marketing still echoes themes common over the past several decades. Newer products like Juul and blu e-cigarettes and Philip Morris’ IQOS heated cigarette reach young women and girls through social media influencers, special parties and events, and celebrity endorsements.

Devastating consequences of tobacco use occur at every stage of a woman’s life. Tobacco use can lead to nicotine addiction for young girls. Nicotine can have lasting and damaging effects on adolescent brain development and girls who smoke also have reduced rates of lung growth and are at risk of early cardiovascular damage.

Additionally, smoking can impact a woman’s ability to become pregnant and can cause serious pregnancy complications including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery, low birthweight, and infant mortality. Smoking is also a primary cause of deadly and debilitating chronic diseases and causes serious health harms later in life, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

So, what policy solutions can help protect women and girls from tobacco?

  • Expanding the availability and promotion of smoking cessation treatments and ensuring women receive advice to quit from their healthcare providers.
  • Eliminating all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes. Flavors mask the harshness and increase the appeal of tobacco products, making it easier for new users – particularly youth – to try these products and ultimately become addicted. Menthol also makes cigarettes more addictive and harder to quit. The FDA recently took a major step forward by announcing that it will initiate rulemaking to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
  • Implementing other proven policy solutions, including cigarette tax increases, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws.

You can learn more about the impact of tobacco on women and girls in the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ new report: A Lifetime of Damage: How Big Tobacco’s Predatory Marketing Harms the Health of Women and Girls.

Community Program Teaches D.C. Residents How to Be Their Own Best Advocates

Originally from Voices For Healthy Kids, an intiative of the American Heart Association with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working to make each day healthier for all children.

 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And if by chance there isn’t a way, there’s Beatrice Evans.

Evans, who’s affectionately known in her community as Miss Bea, may be retired, but the 67-year-old lifelong D.C. resident says her work is only just beginning.

“Everyone has something they can give, and every little bit helps,” said Miss Bea. That mentality is at the core of the way she lives her life. 

When she saw community members struggling with food and nutrition insecurity, she organized a Produce Plus Program registration session. By the end of the event, more than 50 people had signed up for the program which provides fruits and vegetables to D.C. residents who can’t always get fresh, healthy food.

When she recognized the disadvantage her neighbors without internet were at, she arranged to have a Wi-Fi hotspot installed on each floor of the senior living apartments where she lives. Now every person in her building has access to the web.

When she spoke to other seniors in the area who had not received their COVID-19 vaccines due to mobility issues or a lack of transportation, she scheduled an on-site clinic to visit and vaccinate those most vulnerable.

“I look around me and I see so much need,” she explained. “When you see that something needs to be done, if you’re capable, you should step up to help. That’s why I advocate for people in my community, especially seniors. And some of the things we’re advocating for haven’t ever been done before, so we’re carving the path as we go.”

Helping her carve that path is DC Greens, an organization dedicated to advancing food justice and health equity in the nation’s capital. Through the nonprofit’s Community Advocates program, D.C. residents take a series of classes where they learn about the tools, connections, skills and information they need to build power in their communities and create the change they want to see. One of the first tasks Miss Bea took on when she graduated from the Community Advocates program – to create her apartment building’s first tenants’ association.

“It is critical to have community voice in any policy initiative,” said Winnie Huston, the food policy strategist for DC Greens. “You must have community buy-in to help shape the policy, advocate for the policy, and implement the policy. But sometimes the people most passionate about an issue don’t always know how to get started. The Community Advocates’ program teaches them the skills and provides them with the support they need to be successful.”            

Funded by a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, Community Advocates teaches small groups of participants the ins and outs of being a spokesperson, understanding the city budget, advocating for food justice, giving testimony at city hearings, and becoming community organizers. 

“This is all about helping people find their voice,” Huston said of the program. “We also meet people where they are. What that means is we do our best to have the capacity – be it time, emotional space or financial stipends, for example – to support each person. We’ve found that if you give people resources, they’ll succeed time and time again.”

Now Miss Bea is passing those resources on to others in her community. While she’s currently helping residents at a neighboring building create their own tenants’ association, she hasn’t forgotten about her advocacy work close to home. Up next Miss Bea hopes to have the curb cut at the entrance of her apartment building fixed.

“When I see injustice, I have to do something,” Miss Bea said. “My friends, neighbors and community have always wanted better. What’s changed is that now we have the tools and skills we need to make those improvements.”