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Inclusive Family Policies: Resources

In order to create family policies for ALL families, policies that align with 21st century science on human development and well-being, a paradigm shift is required:

All care has value. 

All care is work.

All care has costs, whether it’s provided by paid professionals or by family members. 

All care must be equitably supported by public policies. 

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Policy statements and proposals
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Campaign for Inclusive Family Policies
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Introduced by Family and Home Network in 2003, the Campaign for Inclusive Family Policies grew out of decades of work and communication with tens of thousands of parents. It aims to establish this fundamental principle: family policy must include all families.

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Care Income Now!
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Open letter to governments: Care Income Now!

A campaign of the Global Women's Strike, endorsed by Family and Home Network.

"Every day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, urban and rural, mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from governments for caregivers, only more work..."

More information and key facts.

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People's Policy Project - Family Fun Pack
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Policy proposals by Matt Bruenig, including an inclusive "paid leave" for parents: “parental leave would be understood as a benefit for children, with the benefit consisting of the care provided by their parents during leave. This also differs from conventional paid leave framing, which construes the program primarily as a benefit for working adults.”

Family Fun Pack

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Finland's excellent, inclusive family policies
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Finland recently updated it's parental leave policies, and they now use the term “Daily allowances for parents” to provide financial support for parents caring for an infant, whether they are taking a leave from employment or not currently earning income for any number of reasons. They have crafted policies that offer financial support for a range of circumstances, including for mothers during the final weeks of pregnancy, for parents who experience miscarriage or stillbirth, and for parents whose baby is in neonatal intensive care. 

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Congressional legislative proposals
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Worker Relief and Credit Reform Act - WRCR Act
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Representative Gwen Moore (WI) sponsored the Worker Relief and Credit Reform Act, which would extend the Earned Income Credit to more people and make it available to caregivers and students.

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End Child Poverty Act
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Representative Rashida Tlaib (MI) introduced the End Child Poverty Act. It would establish a Universal Child Benefit of $393 per month, replacing the Child Tax Credit and the child provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Every child would be enrolled at birth, with payments made by the Social Security Administration.

 

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Scholarship - economics, politics, feminist theory
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Nancy Folbre, PhD
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Nancy Folbre, Professor Emerita of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Economist focused on the value of "care work" and the inadequacies of mainstream economic measures to account for it. In a profile of Folbre for the Yale Economic Growth Center, Greg Larson writes:

"Over four decades, her work can be characterized as having three key insights. First, care work is highly productive: whether paid or unpaid, caregivers – from stay-at-home moms to workers at a daycare or eldercare center – contribute enormously to the production, development, and maintenance of human capabilities, creating immense social benefits. Second, care work is undervalued,  because it seldom conforms to the simple logic of impersonal exchange.

"Folbre’s third key insight is that undervaluing care work has broad social and economic consequences. She considers care to be an integral part of our “social climate,” which – like the climate of temperatures and weather patterns – is changing in ways that are very hard to measure. Much as climate change poses broad and far-reaching consequences for the environment, we are beginning to see costly and harmful changes in the social climate, as well. These include persistent poverty and widening inequality as well as increased rates of drug addiction, suicide, and other so-called deaths of despair. 

“'Care provision is an important example of the types of cooperation that we need to solve major public goods problems like climate change,” Folbre says. “We need to think about the importance of social as well as private investment.'"

Also see Revaluing Care:

"Revaluing Care in the Global Economy is an ongoing international, interdisciplinary collaboration that started from a recognition that we’ve been talking about the maldistribution of carework for over a century.  For at least half a century there has been a robust body of research and critical thinking across disciplines, including extensive data collection, various metrics and indices, and reams of essays decrying the fact that — around the world — carework remains badly undervalued in all senses and falls overwhelmingly to women, particularly racially or ethnically marginalized women.  The standard repertoire of solutions — state-, market-, and technology-based approaches — have barely made a dent in the problem, and even modest legislative reforms are a very heavy lift."

 

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Global Women's Strike - Care Income Now!
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The Global Women's Strike is "an international multiracial network campaigning for recognition and payment for all caring work for people and planet—a Care Income."

Women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work – a total of 12.5 billion hours a day. The market values unwaged work at $10.8 trillion but never suggests that those who do it should get any of it.

Selma James, activist and author and founder of Care Income Now: “... if you are a carer (of children or others) you are entitled to financial recognition by society for that fundamental work, and it is the height of sexism to be rewarded with poverty and dependence.”

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Care work and inequality
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Oxfam International's report Time to care: unpaid and underpaid care work and the global inequality crisis:

"Governments around the world must act now to build a human economy that is feminist and values what truly matters to society, rather than fuelling an endless pursuit of profit and wealth.

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Riane Eisler - Center for Partnership Systems
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Social systems scientist Riane Eisler urges societies to move from modern-day dominator systems to the partnership systems that sustained humans over millions of years, She founded the Center for Partnership Systems (CPS) to offer resources that can help us shift to "socio-economics that value caring, nature, and shared prosperity." From the CPS website:

Riane Eisler, founder and president of CPS, has been the most iconic pioneer in the field of gender equity for the past six decades. She continues to build on her best-selling book, The Chalice and the Blade (now in its 56th printing in 25 languages) that re-examines thirty thousand years of human culture. Eisler showed that for millennia human societies were structured as “Partnership Systems” where our capacity to give, nurture, and sustain life was celebrated as divine; women and men shared power; and a spirit of mutual care and responsibility prevailed. This ancient social configuration, which existed before domination prevailed, helps us understand that we don’t have to accept conquest, violence, and abuse as “human nature.”

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Beyond GDP
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Policymakers’ focus on paid work is inadequate when it comes to family policies. Paid work is measured in GDP but the value of the essential work done by unpaid caregivers is not. A wider lens is recommended by the international  Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which aims to make “better policies for better lives.” In Beyond GDP: Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance, renowned economists’ key message is: 

“change the focus of our statistics from measuring the size of economic production, which is what GDP is about, to measuring what shapes the well-being of people today and that of future generations. This change of perspective is crucial, in the words of Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz – one of the Commission’s chairs: ‘What you measure affects what you do’.” 

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Neil Gilbert, PhD on family policy
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From Gilbert, N. (2008). A Mother’s Work: How Feminism, the Market, and Policy Shape Family Life. New Haven: Yale University Press:

“The customary package of family-friendly policies provides the kind of benefits that transmit both public support for and confirmation of the life choices of mothers with young children who opt for the male model of early entry and continuous labor-force participation. At the same time, the state offers few, if any, benefits that aid and endorse mothers inclined toward the sequential approach to balancing work and family life. Neither the simultaneous nor the sequential approach to work and family life is so unmistakably superior in promoting private happiness and the public good that it deserves exclusive backing from the state. Something needs to be done to correct the current discrepancy in public incentives and symbolic approval, which skews the social context of modern life-style choices.”

And, he adds: “The objective here is not to reduce public subsidies for existing benefits but rather to increase flexibility and choice by extending family-friendly policies beyond the established realm of work-oriented supports.”

Neil Gilbert, University of California, Berkeley

Neil Gilbert is the Milton and Gertrude Chernin Professor of Social Welfare and Social Services. Dr. Gilbert is director of the Center for Comparative Family Welfare and Poverty Research and was the founding director of the Family Welfare Research Group.

 

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Bewildering array of programs and rules
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Tax expert C. Eugene Steuerle his colleagues at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center point out that families “face a bewildering and often conflicting array of tax programs and eligibility rules.”

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The Science of Human Development and Well-Being
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Human development in the 21st Century: a dynamic system
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For decades, much research related to human development has been conducted within the framework of an ongoing “nature v. nurture” debate. Scholars from many disciplinary fields are calling for a paradigm shift in thinking about human development—a shift towards dynamic systems theory. Alan Fogel, Barbara J. King and Stuart G. Shanker explain: “The dynamic systems approach is an emerging interdisciplinary set of principles used by a diverse collection of scientists to help understand the complex world in which we live. The main insight that unites these scientists, despite wide differences in methods and concept, is a focus on connections and relationships.”

Human Development in the 21st Century: Visionary Ideas from Systems Scientists

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Harvard's Center on the Developing Child
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Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child offers resources for professionals, parents and policymakers.  

Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center, says: "The ultimate answer is to reduce the stressors on families, so families can do what families are best capable of doing."

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The Evolved Nest - Darcia Narvaez, PhD
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Distinguished interdisciplinary researcher Dr. Darcia Narvaez, recognizing that “human beings are a particular species with particular needs that, especially in early life, need to be fulfilled in order to construct an individual’s sociality and compassionate morality.” Utilizing lessons from neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, she illuminates the elements of humanity’s evolved nest. For babies these elements include responsive relationships (promoting calm, avoiding distress and discomfort), caregiver positive touch (holding, carrying), frequent, on demand breastfeeding, a welcoming community for babies and robust assistance for parents.

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Infant-Parent Mental Health - Claudia M Gold, MD
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Claudia M. Gold, MD is a leader in child-parent mental health and author of books for clinicians and for the general public. She is on the faculty of the Early Relational Health fellowship at UMass Chan Medical School, the Brazelton Institute at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute. In her blog "Child in Mind" Dr. Gold eloquently illuminates the science and offers insight on listening to parents and their children (even the very youngest infants communicate).

In Roots of Democracy Lie in Listening to Parents Gold points to the power of offering support to parents, with a passage from the book  The Power of Discord, co-authored with Ed Tronick, PhD:

“Recognizing the significance of relationships in making sense of behavior frequently gets translated into blaming parents. People may wonder if a child’s behavior is a result of poor parenting. A more constructive approach begins with accepting that when relationships falter, individuals will struggle. While a particular problem may be located in one person the caregiver’s response to the problem becomes part of their relationship. In every relationship, each person has a role to play and, through that role, influences the other. Not only as children but throughout people’s lives, seeing struggles in the context of relationships, without judgment or blame, helps all of us connect and our relationships to succeed.”

Dr. Gold describes how quickly the challenges of parenting can result in parents feeling guilt or shame. She quotes the renowned pediatrician turned psychoanalyst D.W.Winnicott: “It should be noted that [caregivers] who have it in themselves to provide good-enough care can be enabled to do better by being cared for themselves in a way that acknowledges the essential nature of their task.” And in concluding, she writes, "Nelson Mandela famously said, 'The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.' A more accurate revision might read: 'how it treats its parents and other caregivers of infants.' With hope the forces of democracy will triumph. Investing in caregivers of society’s youngest members will help to insure that the triumph lasts."

Dr. Gold's website

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Nurture Connection: Early Relational Health
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The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is a national nonprofit organization that "connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society in which all children and families thrive." They launched Nurture Connection to promote "strong, positive, and nurturing early relationships to build healthier, more connected communities." Their aims include: raise awareness, build understanding, transform systems and advance policy.

"Young children’s growth and development depend on the positive emotional connection that babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers experience with each other. These early positive relationships also support parents’ and caregivers’ overall well-being by giving them joy, comfort, and meaning."

"Early Relational Health — or the state of emotional well-being that grows from the positive emotional connection between babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers when they experience strong, positive, and nurturing relationships with each other — is critical to creating healthy children, healthy families, and healthy communities."

 

 

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American Academy of Pediatrics on preventing childhood toxic stress
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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an updated statement on childhood toxic stress in the August 2021 issue of its journal, Pediatics: Preventing Childhood Toxic Stress: Partnering With Families and Communities to Promote Relational Health by a committee led by Andrew Garner, Md, PhD, FAAP and Michael Yognam, MD, FAAP.

"By focusing on the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships (SSNRs) that buffer adversity and build resilience, pediatric care is on the cusp of a paradigm shift that could reprioritize clinical activities, rewrite research agendas, and realign our collective advocacy. Driving this transformation are advances in developmental sciences as they inform a deeper understanding of how early life experiences, both nurturing and adverse, are biologically embedded and influence outcomes in health, education, and economic stability across the life span."

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Children/s Needs
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There's a mountain of evidence from the science of human development that illuminates children’s needs. Parent-child time together is crucial in order to establish and maintain the intimate, two-way relationships that are essential for healthy development.

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Bruce Perry, MD
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Dr. Bruce D. Perry, renowned psychiatrist and expert in neurodevelopment and child mental health, warns:  "We have slowly been neglecting two of our most powerful biological gifts: the power of relationships and the brain’s malleability in early childhood."

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Drs T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley I. Greenspan
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Looking at the big picture and citing the urgent need for international cooperation and interdependency across national boundaries, renowned doctors T. Berry Brazelton and Stanley I. Greenspan reminded us that "in order to protect the future for one child, we must protect it for all." As they point out, "Only secure, well-nurtured individuals are capable of joining together and embracing a broader ethic of shared humanity."

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Maternal Desire - Daphne de Marneffe, PhD
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As clinical psychologist Daphne de Marneffe points out in her book Maternal Desire, with motherhood comes intense feelings of joy and connection and also ambivalence and essential questions of meaning: “What makes mothering meaningful and pleasurable? What does time spent with one’s child have to do with the creation of meaning?” As mothers, de Marneffe says, “we should give ourselves the room, the dignity, to discover what we think and what we want. Each of us must think through the issues for herself so that the life we live is a personal creation rather than a resigned-to reality.” Thinking through the issues is no easy task in our complex and often-confusing culture. De Marneffe, pointing out that many mothers are compelled to re-think their identity, also notes that “the available cultural images of motherhood rarely help us to plumb its complexity.”

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The Power of Parents
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A 4-page brief on recent research findings in neuroscience, genetics and developmental science, providing unequivocal
evidence of the critical importance of nurturing and two-way intimate relationships between parent and child.

Power of Parents (Family and Home Network, 2021)

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Resources for families
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Child Care Bureau - including info for parents careing for their children
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Accessing Support for All Parents - Family and Home Network approached the Child Care Bureau with this idea: a brochure for parents about the option of providing care themselves for their children. We drafted the concept in 2015.

Currently, there are many resources for those seeking child care. Resources for other kinds of care should be equitably funded.

Parents making decisions about income-earning and care need information on a range of topics, including:

Care for infants and young children

Thrift

Home sharing

Co-ops

The need for nature and free play

Many corporations are funding "return to work" programs, because they know that people who take time out of the paid workforce to care for family members gain valuable skills and experience, and make great employees. For more on this (including great interviews in the 3-2-1 Podcast) see iRelaunch. 

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Co-ops for Care
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Child Care: the Cooperative Way workshop from Capita
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A workshop from Capita, in their words:

In this workshop co-hosted with The ICA Group and facilitated by ICA Group Child Care Program Director Anne McSweeney, we shared the case for worker cooperatives as a necessary part of redesigning and rebuilding the child care system after the Covid-19 pandemic. The session also included a primer on how cooperatives launch and operate, as well as concrete actions local, state, and federal stakeholders can take to foster cooperative development and build a more equitable child care economy.

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What Can Co-Ops do About Childcare? Recommendations for State Leaders
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A Brief by Mo Manklang, Policy Director for the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives:

What Can Co-ops Do About Childcare?

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ICA Group
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An organization offering info and expertise about worker co-ops, including those for child care and home care. In their words:

ICA seeks to change the nature of work by advancing businesses and institutions that center worker voice, grow worker wealth, and build worker power. We seek to create, promote, and support jobs, while collaborating with workers to define a truly entrepreneurial, democratic, and community-minded economy.

ICA Group