In their Own Words – The Maryland Commission for Women roundtable conference
The Maryland Commission for Women held a roundtable conference recently, In their Own Words: Voices of Maryland Women. The purpose of the conference was to present the findings of a Listening Tour, launched in July 2016, a series of 19 public forums inviting women to talk about the challenges they face in their everyday lives. During this time, the Commission also conducted an on-line survey in four languages. More than 1,400 women participated in either a forum or the survey.
The top five challenges facing women, identified through the Commission’s efforts were:
• Domestic violence and sexual assault
• Paid time off for extended parental and medical leave
• Women and drug abuse or addition problems
• Women in leadership positions
• Access to quality, affordable child care
Four general child care issues were raised frequently in the public forums:
• The cost of tuition as a percent of working families’ income
• The income eligibility limits for child care tuition subsidies
• The reimbursement rates for child care providers
• The low wages of child care workers
Participants in the Listening Tour forums identified some action steps:
• Raise the income-eligibility limits for child care subsidies.
• Expand tax credits for middle-income families for child care expenses.
• Develop incentives for employers to provide child care benefits, including on-site centers.
• Make additional resources and training available for both center-based and in-home child care providers.
• Establish a dedicated tax on casino revenues to support these increases.
• Simplify the in-home child care provider certification process.
• Establish incentives for provision of overnight child care.
• Establish school-age child care programs with schedules consistent with “normal” work schedules (not closing for spring break, snow days or professional days, for example).
• Initiate statewide incentive programs to recruit more child care providers.
• Encourage and make available licensure training to increase the number of family care providers.
In my next blog, I’ll present some of the ways Maryland Family Network and others are working to address these issues.