How to Ensure Equity Before and After Birth for All Families? Investments in Paid Leave and Child Care – A Conversation with Advocate Joy Spencer.

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July 22, 2021

Episode Summary

Episode 3 Cover. How to Achieve Equity Before and After Birth? Paid Leave and Child Care for All. Featuring Joy Spencer's headshot.

This episode of the Voices for Human Needs Podcast is all about the fight for paid leave and universal child care featuring a special conversation with Joy Spencer, the Executive Director of Equity Before Birth, a member with MomsRising, and a mother of a three-year-old. Joy shares how she uses her lived experiences as a working mother to advocate on behalf of improving health outcomes for Black mothers and their children in addition to expanding access to affordable child care options and paid leave opportunities for all working parents.

As a single mom in Durham, North Carolina, Joy struggled to keep her job while needing paid medical leave during her high-risk pregnancy, and later when needing child care for her young child. As an advocate with the national grassroots organization, MomsRising, Joy recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means in April 2021 at a hearing entitled “In Their Own Words: Paid Leave, Child Care, and an Economy That Failed Women,” where she shared her own experiences and the challenges she has overcome to stay in the workforce while balancing the health of herself and her daughter: “This was the first time that Congress held a hearing basically only about lived experience.” Joy shared. “Everyone on the panel was a mom and a business owner or a leader in their community that helps other families, especially in the areas of child care and paid leave. I feel that I was a part of making history.”

Joy’s story highlights how critical it is to pass proposed policies within the American Families Plan and President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda that would expand infrastructure for paid family and medical leave and child care. In addition, Joy discusses how such policies will promote greater equity and support all families across the socio-economic spectrum, especially for BIPOC parents. Last, but not least, Joy advises listeners on how to connect with other advocates in their communities and utilize storytelling to inform the elected leaders of these needed policies. Listen below and please share!

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Building back better with paid leave and child care for all

Implementing a national paid family and medical leave for workers in addition to making meaningful federal investments to expand access to high-quality child care options for parents to be able to work are among the “Top 12 Solutions to Cut Poverty in the U.S.” as reported by the Center for American Progress. The public health crisis of COVID-19 demonstrated just how essential paid leave policies and child care programs are so that workers do not have to sacrifice their income to meet the needs of their families. 

When asked about current child care investments being debated by policymakers, Joy commented, “Universal child care would be a game-changer. Every single child, every baby, every human needs a caregiver. Our babies cannot take care of themselves. I just cannot understand why we take the risk of leaving a parent without an option to have their child taken care of for the majority of their waking hours while that parent has to be at work.”

Congress is working over the next few weeks in its effort to pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan and a budget resolution. The fate of President Biden’s American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan proposals to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave and child care infrastructure to build new and upgrade existing child care facilities across the country (including at community college campuses and businesses), and make child care free for working families making the lowest-incomes will be voted on during the budget reconciliation process. Reconciliation will only require a simple majority vote of 50 Senators (plus the tie-breaking vote by the Vice President) to pass the care infrastructure legislation.

Now is the time for listeners like you to contact your elected representatives by phone, social media, or signing onto action letters (featured below) urging them to vote for legislation investing in paid leave and child care during the reconciliation process.

 Actions You Can Take Now

child care
child poverty
early childhood
health care
Labor and Employment
paid leave
Social Services