State Initiative

Pathways to Prosperity: Report From a Convening on Economic Security for Families With Infants and Toddlers - Oregon

Apr 18, 2022

In October 2021, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and ZERO TO THREE convened a group of state leaders and national experts to discuss strategies to promote the economic security of families with infants and toddlers. Four policy areas were addressed: cash assistance and tax credits, paid family and medical leave, housing, and education and training. Together, panelists and participants discussed the history of support in each of these areas, recent laws and legislative proposals, and examples of innovative practices. Three themes emerged from the discussions: (1) It is important to focus on both the “whole child” and “whole family” when addressing the economic security of families; (2) It is essential that we understand our past and create the future so that the next generation of policies and practices are anti-racist and promote equity; and (3) The field of early childhood can play an important supporting role in creating pathways to prosperity by building relationships, making sure the child development case for economic security policies is understood, and working in collaboration with those focused more directly on economic justice opportunities for families.

Time to Care Oregon—a coalition of racial and gender justice organizations, labor, public health organizations, and community advocacy groups representing seniors and children—came together to win the most inclusive PFML law in the country, the FAMLI Equity Act.

They started by defining the problem and who it impacts. They grappled with the recognition that caregiving is undervalued and that ignoring the realities for caregivers perpetuates gender, race, and class injustice. “We turned our attention to who is most likely to be left out,” said Andrea Paluso, Executive Director, Family Forward Oregon. They recognized that women are more likely to be harmed by lack of a system because they provide more of the unpaid care in families. Further, more White workers have access to paid leave compared to Black, Indigenous, and Latinx workers. They focused on developing policy principles rooted in equity and inclusion, and they used a race/gender/class narrative to show the impact PFML would have for Oregon.

When fully implemented, the FAMLI Equity Act will be available to all working Oregonians regardless of size of employer, hours worked, type of industry, or type of family. For workers who have earned at least $1,000 in wages in a base year, the law provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for self-care, family care, and parental leave; and an additional 2 weeks for pregnancy-related conditions. Progressive wage replacement is calculated as a percentage of the Oregon Weekly Average Wage, with lowest income workers earning 100% wage replacement and a diminishing percentage as wages increase. The maximum wage replacement per week is $1,200 adjusted annually. The program is funded through a social insurance pool and administered by the Oregon Employment Department.

For more information: http://www.timefororegon.org

To learn more about Pathways to Prosperity, read here.

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