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A VIRGINIA MARSHALL PLAN FOR MOMS

As Lieutenant Governor, a senior member of my staff will be a Director of Mothers Advocacy—a "Chief Moms Officer"—whose focus will be working with the Governor and General Assembly to enact the Virginia Marshall Plan for Moms.

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THE PROBLEM

Before 2020, a lack of substantive work-family policies kept too many women out of employment, working part-time involuntarily, or earning lower wages. Mothers spend more of their time working, caring for children, and doing household labor —even though, according to a Center for American Progress report, they have less access to affordable child care and workplace policies such as paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and equal pay.

This trend only worsened after the onset of COVID-19 and the closing of many of our schools and child care centers. Millions of moms were forced to leave the workforce and assume the primary role as caregivers for both their parents and children. In December 2020, the U.S. economy lost a net of 140,000 jobs. All of them were held by women.

 

This crisis has given us the opportunity and obligation to address this growing inequity. When we consider policies to rebuild our Commonwealth, we must take into account the impact COVID-19 had on moms, especially moms of color, from the wages lost to the career advancement forgone to the barriers to reentering the workforce after women have been forced to leave it. 

 

It’s time for a Virginia Marshall Plan for Moms.

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HOW TO DISCUSS

  • When mothers do well, everyone does well. The science is clear. One of the best ways to ensure the emotional health of children is to ensure the well-being of their mothers. 
     

  • Economically empowering women lifts all boats. Investing in moms is the smartest investment in Virginia’s near- and long-term future. Job losses in Virginia and nationwide have hit women the hardest. By helping mothers take care of their children, get back to work and succeed in the workforce, Virginia’s economy and our children will reap the rewards.
     

  • This pandemic has hit everyone hard, but moms have been hit harder than others. In the December 2020 national jobs report, women made up all of the job losses while men, on net, gained jobs. Black and Latina women have been particularly hard-hit in this pandemic. If we do not act and act boldly, Virginia is on the path to a “K-shaped recovery” where women and particularly mothers may never recover economically.
     

  • This idea has made it into the mainstream because of the leadership of moms.  

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POLICY SOLUTIONS

  1. Quality Child Care For Every Kid. Too many parents struggle to find safe, affordable and enriching child care, especially for children 0 to 5 years of age. Virginia must increase access to the Child Care Subsidy Program to maximize use of federal block grant funding.  The Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) must be expanded to include all 3 and 4 year olds. Child care doesn’t stop at kindergarten. We must ensure that parents with school age children have access to affordable, high-quality after school child care. Every Virginia family should be awarded a tax credit to ensure access to affordable child care. 
     

  2. Ensure All Workers Have Paid Family & Medical Leave. With lower wages than men, and little access to paid family and medical leave, women are often pushed out of the workforce. Moms need the opportunity to take paid leave to receive treatment for a serious illness, support a sick family member, or care for a new child. Paid leave means not having to choose between your family and your job, especially during the COVID pandemic.
     

  3. Expand Access To Sick Leave. After a decade of experience working in health care, and becoming Vice-Chair of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, Sam understands that we need empowering solutions. Health care is more than just the right to be insured. Every mom must be afforded sick leave to go to the doctor to care for herself or family members.
     

  4. Create A Caregiver Income Tax Credit. More than one million family caregivers in Virginia provide a total of 956 million hours of unpaid care valued at $11.8 billion annually. These individuals, many of them moms, serve a critical function in our society. In 2020, Sam introduced HB 361 to create a caregiver income tax credit to help these Virginians. Caregivers should be credited up to $1000 on their state taxes for expenses incurred by an individual caring for a family member.
     

  5. Institute Fair Scheduling. Most low-wage workers have little control over their working hours and 60% of them are women. Service industry work schedules are erratic. Women still handle most caregiving responsibilities. As seen in other parts of the country, fair scheduling would require businesses to have predictable schedules, opportunities to work enough hours for a livable paycheck, and healthy schedules with time to sleep, commute, and care for yourself and family.
     

  6. People's Platform Policy — Raise The Minimum Wage And Index To Inflation. We must ensure Virginia raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Current law raises the minimum wage to $12 per hour by January 1, 2023 with a promise to re-evaluate an increase to $15 per hour. We have more work to do. (Jay, Henrico)
     

  7. People’s Platform Policy — Help Employers Support Moms. Virginia should offer employer incentives for targeted career development opportunities so mothers can make up lost ground in their careers, and offer incentives to hire moms forced out of the workforce by the COVID pandemic. (Ivonne, Roanoke)