Senate Committee Holds Roundtable Discussion on Working Women, Bills to Improve Quality of Infant and Toddler Care & Preventive Heart Screenings
H.R. 4680—-Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA)/Education and the Workforce (5/20/14) — A bill to improve the quality of infant and toddler care.*
H. Res. 586—-Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU)/Energy and Commerce (5/19/14) — A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
S. Res. 454—-Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)/Considered and agreed to (5/21/14) — A resolution recognizing that cardiovascular disease continues to be an overwhelming threat to women’s health and the importance of providing basic, preventive heart screenings to women wherever they seek primary care.
H.R. 4708—-Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)/Ways and Means, Judiciary (5/21/14) — A bill to provide for the establishment of an office within the Internal Revenue Service to focus on violations of the internal revenue laws by persons who are under investigation for conduct relating to the promotion of commercial sex acts and trafficking in persons crimes, and to increase the criminal monetary penalty limitations for the underpayment or overpayment of tax due to fraud.
H.R. 4703—-Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL)/Foreign Affairs (5/21/14) — A bill to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 relating to determinations with respect to efforts of foreign countries to reduce demand for commercial sex acts under the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
S. 2358—-Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)/Armed Services (5/20/14) — A bill to authorize additional leave for members of the armed forces in connection with the birth of a child.
H.R. 4730—-Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL)/Armed Services (5/22/14) — A bill to allow the return of personal property to victims of sexual assault incidents involving a member of the armed forces upon completion of proceedings related to the incident.
H.R. 4741—-Rep. John Tierney (D-MA)/Veterans’ Affairs (5/22/14) — A bill to provide for an increase in the amount of monthly dependency and indemnity compensation payable to surviving spouses by the secretary of Veterans Affairs.
On May 21, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, a resolution (S. Res. 454) recognizing the importance of providing preventative heart screenings to women through primary care.
Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the resolution commits to "improving the heart health of all women, tearing down the barriers that prevent women from getting screened for heart disease, ensuring women are provided with personalized lifestyle modification recommendations and support, and ensuring every woman has a healthy heart."
On May 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hosted Economic Security for Working Women – A Roundtable Discussion.
Speaking in support of paid sick leave policies, Ellen Bravo, executive director, Family Values at Work, said, "FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act (P.L. 103-3)] was a great first step for families – but as our economy and our families have changed, so too must our laws. The FMLA leaves out more than 40 percent of the workforce. It does not include routine illness or preventive care. While an employee covered by FMLA could take leave to care for her father if he had a heart attack, that same employee could be fired for taking Dad to the doctor to get his cholesterol down and prevent a heart attack in the first place. Furthermore, many of those who are covered are unable to take the time they need because it is unpaid. In 2012, two and a half times as many people as in 2000 needed leave and were eligible but didn’t take it, mostly because they couldn’t afford it. Many others went back from leave too early, without fully recovering.”
Speaking on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management, Gayle Troy, human resource manager, Globe Manufacturing Company, LLC, said, "We have found that one of the best ways to retain talented and dedicated employees is to create an effective and flexible workplace, with generous benefits and innovative workplace flexibility policies. Our workplace flexibility practices help meet the work-life needs of our workforce while also ensuring business operations continue … As a small company, Globe is creative in providing employee benefits and flexible work strategies. These employee benefits have contributed to our company’s 93 percent employee retention rate. Higher employee retention leads to greater economic security and stability for our workforce. Organizations like ours want to be able to continue to manage our workplace in ways that work for our company culture and that help us meet our business objectives, including our financial sustainability."
The following witnesses also testified:
- Neera Tanden, president, Center for American Progress;
- Amy Traub, senior policy analyst, Demos;
- Fatima Goss Graves, vice president, Education and Employment, National Women’s Law Center;
- Lori Pelletier, executive secretary-treasurer, Connecticut State Federation of Labor;
- Armanda Legros, Jamaica Estates, NY; and
- Rhea Lana Riner, president, Rhea Lana’s, Inc.
*Clark Introduces First Bill: Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act
Congresswoman Katherine Clark introduced her first bill, the Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act of 2014, legislation that improves the quality of child care for children under the age of 3. More than 6 million infants and toddlers receive care from someone other than their parents each week, and the quality of child care is often the most critical assurance parents need in order to continue working. In addition to addressing the need for finding quality care, the Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act focuses on the vital importance of providing quality care at the most crucial developmental stages in a child’s life, specifically from birth to age three.
"As the mother of three, I understand that parents want nothing more than to make sure that their kids are safe, healthy, and thriving," said Clark. "Hardworking parents spend an extraordinary percentage of their income on child care. Even when they are able to get child care, they are not always sure that it meets the needs of their kids. This bill gives states the tools to ensure high quality in child care environments."
Women are especially impacted by a lack of access to quality, affordable care. Making up two-thirds of minimum wage and tipped earners, women are disproportionately impacted by the high cost of child care. Recent data shows that low-income working mothers spend an average of 38 percent of their income on child care.
"High quality early childhood education and care is as close to a silver bullet as we are going to find to solve our economic challenges. It supports working families, creates economic opportunities for women and provides a great start for our youngest learners," said Clark.
Clark's bill updates the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a federal program that provides child care subsidy grants to states. The Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act is designed to give working parents the confidence they need about the quality of their child care so they can continue providing for their families. The bill enhances the federal program by providing strategies and best practices for improving the quality of infant and toddler care. Research shows that at this stage of a child’s growth, as millions of synapses are being formed, quality care is critical for the development of the cognitive and behavioral skills.
Clark's bill has drawn strong support from organizations advocating to improve the lives of women, working families and our youngest learners: AFSCME, Child Care Aware (formerly NACCRA), Child Care WORKS, CLASP, Early Care and Education Consortium, First Five Years Fund, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Women’s Law Center, SEIU, and Zero to Three.
Full text of the Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act of 2014, can be found here.
Video of Clark’s remarks can be found here.
Women's Policy Inc. provided the text on Congressional bills, hearings and mark ups.
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