Late last year, Take Care Net sent a survey out to the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to gauge their support for potential legal reforms that would help struggling working parents and their children. A review of that list provides a tantalizing glimpse of what a truly family-friendly United States would look like.
Sadly, the survey got little attention in the media, and very few questions were asked about these subjects during the debates. No Republican candidate answered the survey. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did answer, however, and said that they support the following initiatives:
- Increased funding for child care, before and after school care.
- Funding for universal pre-school programs.
- Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover workers at companies with 25 or more employees (it currently covers only companies with 50 or more).
- Expanding the FMLA to cover school visits and doctor's appointments.
- Requiring employers to provide employees with a minimum number of paid sick days to care for their own illnesses as well as their family members.
- Requiring parity in pay and pro-rated benefits for part-time workers.
- Providing scholarships for education and training and increased compensation to attract and retain qualified child care providers.
- Providing employees the right to flexible work arrangements where it can be done as a reasonable business accommodation.
- Prohibiting employers from asking about whether a potential employee is married or has children (what MomsRising calls "maternal profiling").
Hillary Clinton also said that she supports creating a federal insurance fund to provide paid family and medical leave.
As Take Care Net noted, if all these reforms were enacted, many more parents would be able to take time off to care for their newborn and newly adopted children. We would not be forced to choose being caring for a sick child and holding down a job. Our opportunities for flexible and part-time work would be increased. We all could go to work knowing that our children are in safe, high quality child care programs. Even if only a bare majority of the policies listed in the survey became law, the lives of many American families would be greatly improved.
This is a vision of a truly family friendly county. And it is not out of reach.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” -- Arundhati Roy