Visitor Column: Why widespread family prosperity should be our mandate in 2021 | Opinion

By Anne Mosle and Trene Hawkins

Times guest columnists

How will our children remember 2021?

It will be the first anniversary of a global pandemic that many have predicted but for which our nation has been utterly unprepared. It will be Biden-Harris’s first year of presidency. And it will be a symbolic moment for policy makers to start over and do it right – for our health, our economy, and most importantly, for helping our nation’s families. This may be the year we develop solutions that embrace a culture of health and increase family wealth. Access to a good job, education, health and the well-being of the whole family are the foundations of family prosperity – as is a broad and wide-ranging definition of the family that encompasses the multitude of ways in which we live and care for one another. considered.

Long before the pandemic, we had to do better for all families. Our nation continues its systemic differences in health and wealth by race and gender, amplifying at its intersections. This can be seen in the devastating – and disproportionate – blow COVID-19 has inflicted on working women forced to quit the workforce at record rates, often due to the childcare crisis – with black mothers hardest hit.

One of the greatest barriers to family prosperity is the false narrative of “rugged individualism” and meritocracy. As a nation, we must come to the realization that the well-being of families depends on our ability to stop judging them and instead listen and learn from them. Working parents with one child at home make up 41 percent of the workforce. As many schools are only open virtually and childcare options are dwindling, we have to argue that making a living and caring go hand in hand and eventually make them compatible responsibilities. Our leaders in state houses, Congress, and the White House can change that narrative using data-driven solutions that transform outcomes for families, economies, and communities.

One way to start this shift is to focus on one of the biggest gaps in support for families across the country: the childcare crisis mentioned above. The Solution: Follow the example of All Our Kin, who works with family childcare businesses. These small family-run home childcare facilities serve families facing major barriers to accessing childcare. All Our Kin offers bilingual (English and Spanish) services, including business and education training, peer networking, interest-free loans and grants, and marketing and referral opportunities. The result is a threefold win: family childcare providers are successful and contribute to the economy, parents go to work knowing their children are safe and capable of learning, and children are given the foundation for success. Families and small businesses know what they need, and increasing resources and solutions to the childcare crisis can not only increase family prosperity but also in ways that dismantle white supremacist systems and use public resources responsibly and fairly. and effective.

We also need to expand the policies that currently protect families physically and economically: particularly policies on family paid leave and medical leave. In California, an additional 6 million workers can now safely take paid family vacations, knowing that their jobs will be waiting for them when they return. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law enforcing on-the-job paid leave for workers (including adoptive or foster parents) to bond with a new child or care for their own or the serious health of a family member – a key need as COVID – 19 infections are increasing in the state. Without this protection, parents of color, especially black mothers and low-wage workers, were most likely fired after taking the necessary vacation. In San Francisco, only 58 percent of non-Hispanic black parents and 54 percent of Hispanic parents could be certain that their work would be there when they returned – the new law will reduce occupational health and safety for non-Hispanic black parents to 73 percent and 71 percent, respectively increase for Hispanic parents. This is progress – but health, wealth and opportunity should be available to all families everywhere.

Our mandate is clear: Scale up family-oriented innovations where health and economic well-being come first. Make them part of new systems and structures that elevate families rather than hold them back. As we move into the New Year, we need to learn from the past and imagine better. We have the resources – public and private – but it comes down to the choice and responsibility of our political leaders and the private sector to act in the best interests of families.

Let’s make 2021 the year we create an ambitious vision and bold agenda for family prosperity. The year in which we corrected the injustices that wrongly saved too many families from health and economic security. And the year we turned down old narratives and put in place real guidelines that create the conditions for families to thrive in their place.

Anne Mosle is the Vice President of the Aspen Institute and General Manager of Ascend at the Aspen Institute. Trene Hawkins is Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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