The Policy Solutions Moms Need This Mother’s Day (And All Days!)
One thing we can say for sure is that none of us would be anywhere without our moms– especially the two-thirds of American families that rely on a female breadwinner or co-breadwinner! Unfortunately, we are lacking policy solutions that give women and families a fair shot to get ahead. So as we head into Mother’s Day weekend we wanted to take some time to discuss the policies that moms need. Here are five steps we can take right now:
1. Provide access to quality, affordable childcare. Quality, affordable child care is out of reach for many families across the country. From 2000 to 2012, child care costs for a typical middle class family grew by 30 percent. Today, in all 50 states child care costs more than median rent and in 31 states and DC, child care costs more than college. One way to expand access to child care would be through a High Quality Child Care Tax Credit, as CAP has proposed, which would help low-income and middle class families afford quality child care, especially Millennial families.
2. Ensure equal pay for equal work. Mothers are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, yet they continue to earn less than their male counterparts, with Latinas and African American women experiencing the sharpest pay disparities. Although the law requires equal pay for equal work, there is more we need to do to ensure that both women and men enjoy the fullest protections against discrimination. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support, conservatives in Congress continue to be unwilling to move forward concrete action steps that could help uncover discriminatory pay practices, create greater pay transparency, and ensure that the law works fairly for everyone.
3. Require paid sick days.Everyone gets sick, but not everyone has time to get better. Almost 40 million U.S. employees, or about 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick days. If employees must take unpaid time off to recover for care for a sick family member, the loss of pay can take a toll, particularly on the low- income workers who are least likely to have access to these policies. Allowing employees to earn paid sick days helps keep our economy, families, and communities healthy.
4. Establish paid family leave. Nearly all workers need to take time away from work at some point in their lives to deal with a serious personal or family illness, or to care for a new child or aging parent. But most Americans don’t have access to paid family leave and are forced to make the choice between caring for themselves or a loved one or losing their jobs. Access to paid family and medical leave could allow workers to meet those needs without jeopardizing their economic security. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee workers the right to earn paid time off in some form; only 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. We need a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that allows workers to continue to earn at least a portion of their pay while they take time away from work: it’s good for families and it’s good for the economy, too.
5. Protect women’s access to affordable health care and contraception. Access to comprehensive, affordable, reproductive health care is a critical part of economic stability for women and families across the United States. About 61 percent of abortions are obtained by women who are already mothers. But despite the unprecedented increases in health insurance coverage brought by the Affordable Care Act, too many women struggle to access any quality health care at all, let alone the services that help them plan their families like contraception and safe abortion care. Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law that has made abortion care nearly impossible to access in many areas of the state by shuttering women’s health clinics without medical justification. Should the Court rule in favor of Texas’ law, anti-choice politicians will be given the green light to continue to enact the same kind of restrictive measures that could make it difficult, if not impossible, for millions of women all over the country to access abortion care. Comprehensive health care must include supports to help women plan when to start, and grow, their families.
BOTTOM LINE: The mothers in our lives deserve the very best from us, and Mother’s Day is one easy way to show we appreciate them. But they also deserve the best from the employers and policymakers that can affect their ability to help their families succeed. Those officials who stand in the way should be more afraid than the child who forgets to call their mom this Sunday.
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