Yesterday leading national experts joined Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) at our Spring Policy Forum: What’s Next? Surveying the federal policy landscape for women, children and families. Despite the unprecedented degree of uncertainty, our panelists were able to provide valuable insight into how the federal landscape is shaping up for women, children and families. However, as Brent Ewig, Director of Public Policy and Affairs at AMCHP stated “Anyone who tells you he/she knows exactly what’s going on is lying.”
First the good news: Babies and children are bipartisan! This means we can be hopeful about continued funding for Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs, and know that Head Start has historically received bipartisan support. Additionally, paid family and medical leave gained significant attention during the recent presidential campaign and the new administration has signaled an interest in implementing this policy for new parents. Sarah Fleisch Fink, Director of Workplace Policy and Senior Counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families, said “Millions of workers have to choose between their jobs and their health, their families health and spending time with a new child”.
Unfortunately there is also worrisome legislation in the pipeline. Just this morning we learned that the President’s proposed budget includes a $54 billion cut across all domestic priorities including everything from the F.B.I. to the Center for Disease Control. No program will be left unscathed. The budget includes an 18 percent cut to Health and Human Services. With the ever-present threat of transforming federal funding for crucial programs like Head Start and Medicaid into block grants, we face reductions in resources that would severely restrict services to those who need them most. It is crucial now more than ever that we come together and advocate for children and families.
In discussing these challenging times Blair Hyatt, Director of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association, noted, “Our best defense against uncertainty is to stay informed.” Similarly we must stay united. For all of us invested in the protection and advancement of policies aimed at supporting women, children and families we cannot afford to miss a step. Here at MCC our policy team works tirelessly to ensure that women, children and families are front and center for lawmakers and that the community is empowered to advocate for themselves. One of the biggest challenges we face is that while babies and children are bipartisan, they cannot vote. So what can we do? As Diedra Henry-Spires, Chief Executive Officer of The Dalton Daley Group, said today, “We must move onward and upward, continuing to advocate for our communities and our nation. “
MCC was founded as an advocacy organization and advocacy continues to be an organizational priority. Just as we’ve always done, we plan to keep going and keep moving, but we need your help. In conjunction with this morning’s forum we are launching a campaign to help fund our policy efforts. Today, we are asking the MCC community to consider making a donation to ensure that we can continue to fight for women, children and families.