PAID FAMILY LEAVE, FREE CHILD AND ELDER CARE, AND $500 CHILD ALLOWANCES
To ensure equal opportunity for men and women we have to balance the demands of work and family. Women bear a disproportionate burden of household care for children, spouses and elders, often managing such things alone. Women make up 83% of the heads of single parent households and more than 2/3rds of the family members who care for elders.
50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women still earn significantly less than men do while having significantly fewer leadership positions in business and government. These deficits are even greater for minority women, who often have access to or opportunity for far less wealth. Equal pay for equal work and the Equal Rights Amendment are not enough. We cannot take advantage of the programs that have been outlined if family responsibilities conflict with our earning a livelihood.
Family and home responsibilities shouldn’t hamper economic opportunity. Too many people cannot earn enough to pay for daycare for their children. The costs of elder care are even more unaffordable, especially when elders need assistance round the clock. To overcome these difficulties, which fall disproportionately on the shoulders of women and even more so on the shoulders of minority women, we must establish free public child and elder care. Like our public schools, these child and elder care services should be open to all, with no demeaning means tests.
Furthermore, employers should be required to provide paid leave for family emergencies and 9 month paid parental leave so that parents can cope with the demands of the birth and infancy of their children. Taking any of these family leaves should never jeopardize career advancement. Moreover, all employees should have 1 month paid vacation time so that they can spend quality time with their families.
Finally, to ensure that childhood poverty becomes a thing of the past, we must provide all parents with a child allowance of at least $500 per month per child. Guaranteed jobs and fair wages may offer a decent living, but the more dependents one has, the more resources one must have to cover their expenses. Every parent needs additional funds to cover the food, clothing, housing, and other expenditures that each child requires, beyond just public daycare. Child allowances are necessary to remove the disgraceful scourge of childhood poverty, which nearly half our children experience.