Friday February 21, 2020
Home Lead Story Here’s ...

Here’s how Child Care Remains an Obstacle as More Women Run for Political Office

As More Women Run for Office, Child Care Remains Hurdle

0
//
Child care
Children peer out a screened window in the fence at the Wallingford Child Care Center in Seattle. VOA

When Kimberly Dudik ran for her fourth term in the Montana House, state officials told her she could not use campaign money to pay for child care for her four young children.

She is now running for attorney general and is trying to visit a big chunk of the sprawling state, spending hours on the road. That means she needs even more help picking up her kids at school and day care when she’s away and her husband has a late night at the office.

“It just seems behind the times,” Dudik, whose family is living off her husband’s income and savings from her work as a lawyer. “When it was a man campaigning, the woman was traditionally the one to stay home and take care of the children. There is not someone home just taking care of the kids.”

Kimberly Dudik children care
Montana Rep. Kimberly Dudik, said, “When it was a man campaigning, the woman was traditionally the one to stay home and take care of the children. There is not someone home just taking care of the kids.” VOA

Experts predict a large number of women will again run for office in 2020 like they did in 2018, and child care remains a hurdle for many of them.

A congressional candidate in New York successfully petitioned the Federal Election Commission in 2018 to allow campaign money to help cover child care costs. But it applies only to those running for federal office.

That leaves women in many states who are running for the Legislature, statewide positions like attorney general or local offices to find another way to pay for child care as they campaign, which often requires night and weekend work.

Only six states have laws specifically allowing campaign money to be used for child care. Five states are considering it. In most states, including Montana, the law is silent on the issue and up to interpretation by agencies or boards. Agencies in at least nine states have allowed child care to be a campaign-related expense, but those decisions are not law and could be reversed.

Utah law

Utah is among the states that passed a gender-neutral child care expense law, which went into effect last May. Sponsored by Republican state Rep. Craig Hall, it easily passed the GOP-dominated legislature.

Luz Escamilla child care
Democratic Sen. Luz Escamilla says that without a paycheck, it was hard to cover the cost of child care for her two youngest daughters. VOA

Luz Escamilla was one of the first candidates to use it as she campaigned to become the first Latina mayor of Salt Lake City. Escamilla had to take time off from her full-time banking job to knock on doors and shake hands as she made her case to voters.

Without a paycheck, it was hard to cover the cost of child care for her two youngest daughters. After the law was passed, she used about $1,500 in campaign cash over two months to help pay for it. The extra time she could spend campaigning helped propel her to a spot in the general election, though she lost in November.

“Full-time campaigning during the summer with toddlers, it makes it really difficult,” Escamilla said, adding of the law: “It was a great tool in our toolbox.”

Other states

Lawmakers in Minnesota added child care as an allowable expense in 2018, while Colorado, New York, New Hampshire and California passed laws in 2019.

Before Colorado allowed campaign cash to be used for child care, Amber McReynolds, a former chief elections official in Denver, was contemplating a bid for statewide office in 2017. The costs of child care were a considerable concern as a single mother of two young children.

For that and other reasons, McReynolds decided against running.

Amber McReynolds child care
Amber McReynolds, director of elections for the City and County of Denver, talks during a media tour of the Denver Elections Division headquarters Friday. VOA

“When we look at the statistics in terms of representatives in Congress or statewide office and you don’t see single moms in that category, that’s why,” said McReynolds, who’s CEO of a nonprofit. “The circumstances are just that much more difficult when you are in politics.”

The policy also can help fathers running for office in families where both parents work.

Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said the record number of women who ran for office in 2018 has helped drive the issue. Still, lawmakers in a number of states have resisted the change.

In Tennessee, the sponsor of a measure to add child care to the list of approved campaign expenses faced a skeptical audience during a subcommittee hearing last spring.

“If they aren’t running for office because they can’t find child care, how are they going to do the job down here?” asked state Rep. John Crawford, a Republican from Kingsport, Tennessee.

The sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Jason Powell, said he introduced the proposal after people he tried to recruit to run for City Council in Nashville declined because child care needs kept them from campaigning.

“I hate that people in our state feel like they can’t run for office because they may or may not be able to use their campaign funds for a child care expense,” Powell said.

The measure failed to advance after a split vote of the all-male subcommittee.

Louisiana reversal

In Louisiana, Democratic state House candidate Morgan Lamandre had her request denied by the state ethics board even though it allowed a Republican man to claim campaign-related child care expenses in 2000. Members, who were not on the panel two decades ago and didn’t have to follow the previous decision, said they were concerned it could be abused.

After a backlash, the board reversed itself.

While she’s used campaign funds to pay for child care a few times, Lamandre said it’s not a panacea for smaller races where candidates might have to choose between paying a baby-sitter or buying basics like lawn signs.

“It’s helpful, but it’s not a slam-dunk,” she said.

‘Time to remove the roadblocks’

Liuba Grechen-Shirley, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress on eastern Long Island and whose FEC petition led to child care expenses being allowed for federal candidates, started a group called Vote Mama to help mothers running for public office and hopes one day the expense is allowed in every state.

Liuba Grechen child care children
Liuba Grechen-Shirley, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress on eastern Long Island and whose FEC petition led to child care expenses being allowed for federal candidates, started a group called Vote Mama. VOA

States now considering proposals include New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Caitlin Clarkson Pereira tried a similar approach to Grechen-Shirley’s, but ended up suing Connecticut after a board denied her request. She was told she couldn’t use campaign money to pay for child care for her young daughter during her state House race in 2018, which she ultimately lost.

Connecticut officials cited a program that allows candidates to tap taxpayer money after they raise a certain amount on their own. With public money involved, the state says child care should be considered a personal expense.

Pereira argued that it should be considered as necessary as meals or travel.

“This is the time to remove the roadblocks that are clearly in the way of parents and families being able to run for office,” she said.

Despite an eleventh-hour push last year by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, lawmakers failed to pass the policy.

Also Read- Men Should Follow These Style Hacks for the Best Party Look

Dudik, the Montana candidate, said the lack of these laws shows the need to have more women in power so policies can be changed.

“If we want more women running for office, we need to make allowances to make that a reality and not just give lip service to it,” she said. (VOA)

Next Story

Higher Fruits and Vegetables Intake Beneficial for Women: Health Researchers

Higher fruits intake linked to fewer menopausal symptoms

0
fruits veg
A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables is known to benefit the human body in so many ways. Pixabay

A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables is known to benefit the human body in so many ways, as now health and lifestyle researchers have found that it may also play a role in lessening various menopause symptoms.

Although hormone therapy has been proven to be an acceptable method for treatment of menopause-related symptoms for many women, the search for nonpharmacologic treatment options is ongoing, especially for women with certain risk factors and those who are not candidates for hormone therapy.

Specifically, there has been a focus on identifying modifiable lifestyle factors that might prevent or alleviate menopause symptoms, said the study, published in the Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

fruits veg
Eating fruits and vegetables may also play a role in lessening various menopause symptoms. Pixabay

“This small cross-sectional study provides some preliminary evidence regarding the influence of fruit and vegetable intake on menopause symptoms,” said study researcher Stephanie Faubion from The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in the US.

NAMS is North America’s leading nonprofit organisation dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

According to the researchers, previous studies have suggested that dietary factors may play a critical role in estrogen production, metabolism, and consequently, menopause symptoms.

In particular, the consumption of fruits or a Mediterranean-style diet, characterised by a high content of vegetables, fruits, cereals, and nuts, was linked to fewer menopause symptoms and complaints.

This new study goes a step further in looking at specific fruits and vegetables and their effects on various menopause symptoms.

Also Read- Here’s why You Should Start Drinking Tart Cherry Juice

Citrus fruits, for example, were called out as having an adverse effect on urogenital scores compared with other types of fruits, as were green leafy or dark yellow vegetables compared with other vegetables, they added.

“There is ample evidence that a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables has a beneficial effect on health in a myriad of ways, but additional study is needed to determine whether various menopause symptoms may be affected by dietary choices,” Faubion said. (IANS)