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Month: April 2021

Over three dozen maternal & child health groups send letter to key committee supporting paid leave

April 21, 2021

House Committee on Ways and Means
1100 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Committee hearing on “In Their Own Words: Paid Leave, Child Care, and an Economy That Failed Women”

Chairman Neal, Ranking Member Brady, Members of the Committee,

We, the undersigned maternal and child health organizations and their partners, would like to thank the House Committee on Ways and Means for holding this hearing on paid family and medical leave, child care, and other issues of critical importance to working families, during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. We strongly urge Congress to support a comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy to support optimal child development, improve maternal health, reduce disparities and enable future generations to live healthier lives.

Unlike in most other countries, in the U.S. parents are often unable to take time off from work to care for a new child, critically ill loved-one, or tend to their own medical needs without sacrificing the income they need to support their families. This has profound and lasting impacts on maternal and child health in the United States. Because pregnancy, childbirth and the transition to parenthood can be physically and psychologically demanding, people need time to care for themselves and their health. Paid leave is a critical tool to support healthier pregnancies, better birth outcomes, more successful breastfeeding and both physical and mental health in the postpartum period. Additionally, inclusive and comprehensive policies can reduce the inequities in access to paid leave, helping to bridge the racial and ethnic disparities in overall maternal and child health outcomes.

Beyond allowing for physical recovery after childbirth, paid time off from work is essential to providing a strong foundation for mom, baby and their family to thrive. Science tells us that babies’ brains are nourished by time spent with parents and caregivers. Policies that enable parents to spend time nurturing and caring for their babies—particularly in the early weeks after birth and for babies that are born pre-term, low birth weight or with illness—are critical to the healthy cognitive, social and emotional development of children.

The need for a comprehensive, equitable paid leave policy has taken on new salience in the past year, as many workers struggled to take time away from work to recover from COVID-19 or care for a sick loved one without risking their paycheck and their livelihood. The pandemic has drawn attention to and expanded preexisting disparities, creating both a health crisis and an economic crisis that has disproportionately impacted women, low-income families, and families of color. Now more than ever, it is clear: paid leave is a public health imperative.

It is time for Congress to act, and to provide all families with the comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy they need. We are grateful to Chairman Neal and the Committee on Ways and Means for holding this important hearing and we look forward to working with you to advance a comprehensive, national paid leave policy to meet the needs of American families.

Sincerely,

1,000 Days
2020 Mom
American Academy of Pediatrics
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Better Life Lab at New America
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Public Justice
Child Care Aware of America
DC Dorothy Day Catholic Worker
Every Mother Counts
The HOPE Registry
Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition
Maine Women’s Lobby
March for Moms
March of Dimes
Mom Congress
MomsRising
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
National Birth Equity Collaborative
National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles
National Partnership for Women and Families
National WIC Association
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Nurse-Family Partnership
Paid Leave for All
Palladium
Physicians for Reproductive Health
PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States
Poder Latinx
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
SPAN Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)
RESULTS
Union for Reform Judaism
US Breastfeeding Committee
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s Law Project

Guest Post – The Patient & The Policy Maven: Navigating Black Maternal Health Through Lived & Learned Experiences

Below is an excerpt of a guest post written by Denys Symonette Mitchell for Black Maternal Health Week.

I remember reading through the pages of a New York Times viral article that unlocked my life’s passion and fueled my drive for health equity. I remember the words being weighty and my petite frame sinking lower with each sentence. I can still feel the tremble in my hands and the shock of my system while reading the shared narratives of women whose lives seemed to mirror mine and realizing that I am a member of the group that is populating the statistics. With sharp precision, I remember when I first learned of Black maternal mortality, which bleeds through zip codes, socioeconomic statues and education levels, too.

To continue reading…

Statement on the American Jobs Plan

1,000 Days is pleased to see the Biden-Harris Administration’s proposal to ensure access to clean, safe drinking water as announced in the American Jobs Plan this week. The plan invests $111 billion to improve water infrastructure, including eliminating 100% of lead pipes and service lines and monitoring and remediating PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in our drinking water systems. 

Families in the 1,000-day window are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of unsafe drinking water. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, but an estimated six to 10 million homes across the country still receive drinking water through lead pipes and service lines. Lead exposure can cause serious, permanent damage to children’s developing brains and cause learning, behavior, and hearing problems. Infants and young children are especially likely to be exposed to lead – and the risk of lead poisoning falls disproportionately on children of color. In fact, Black children are nearly three times as likely as white children to have elevated blood-lead levels.  

Additionally, PFAS are harmful to both pregnant women and their developing babies. Prenatal exposure to these widely used industrial chemicals can disrupt metabolism and immunity, which may cause lasting effects on both mom and baby – from a higher risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia during pregnancy to a child’s increased risk of obesity and infections. 

No family should have to worry about harmful exposures through their drinking water. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a basic but critical part of a healthy first 1,000 days – whether it’s as a source of hydration during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or as a source of nourishment for babies who consume infant formula. 

The Biden-Harris Administration’s investment is a critical step to ensuring mothers and babies are safe and healthy during and after the 1,000-day window. But, we know that the needs of mothers, babies, and families in the United States go far beyond what is included in the American Jobs Plan. At 1,000 Days, we look forward to the next portion of the Administration’s infrastructure package: the American Families Plan. A full recovery cannot occur without a permanent paid leave program and paid sick days, continued investments in WIC, further access to postpartum health care via Medicaid, and an extension of the increased Child Tax Credit.