Advocates call on legislators to establish family and medical leave insurance, and funding for child care scholarships
The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy today convened parents, caregivers, and business leaders at the State House to advocate for proactive policies to address New Hampshire’s workforce challenges.
At a press conference, and in meetings with their elected representatives, advocates called on lawmakers to pass House Bill 628 to establish family and medical leave insurance, and House Bill 370 to support the appropriation of $15 million into the state’s two-year budget to fund the child care scholarship program.
“Those of us concerned about New Hampshire’s economy can’t afford to ignore the fact that caregiving responsibilities are driving people who want to work out of our workforce.” said Amanda Sears, Director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy. “The future of our state depends on New Hampshire being an attractive place to live, work and raise a family—these policies are proven solutions to jump-start our economy.”
HB 628 will establish an employee-funded family and medical leave insurance program, providing up to 12 weeks per year of partial wage replacement for time to care for a family or personal medical emergency, or the birth or adoption of a new child. Family and medical leave insurance is supported by 82 percent of Granite Staters, and draws majority support across all political affiliations.
“There is no doubt in my mind that personally and professionally I have seen the need for paid family and medical leave,” said Kerry Norton, RN, Program Director of Hope on Haven Hill, which provides substance abuse recovery services to pregnant women and women with young children. “When my son needed to get a higher level of care for his addiction, paid leave ensured he was able to thrive in his treatment, without risking his job.”
HB 370 would maintain the state’s investment in child care with a $15 million appropriation in the two-year budget. Early learning is critical to brain development for young children, but is out of reach for the average family in New Hampshire, costing more than rent and taking up roughly a third of family budget expenses, forcing parents out of the workforce to care for their children.
“I often say child care makes the world go round,” said Marti Ilg, Executive Director of Lakes Region Child Care Services. “That’s a positive way to frame the fact that child care holds up our economy. We must support today’s workforce, while developing the workforce of tomorrow.”
“Both scientific research and my clinical experience tell us that children need their parents at critical times in their lives,” said Dr. Steven Chapman, a pediatrician in Lebanon and Chapter Vice President
of the New Hampshire Pediatric Society. “Whether in the important weeks following birth or when recovering from serious illness, too many parents simply can’t afford to lose wages to care for their children’s health.”
The full day of events included an activist training, press conference, lunch with legislators, and meetings with lawmakers.