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Groups Urge Iowa Parents to Speak Up for Working Families

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MomsRising and Every Child Matters are two national groups working together to urge parents to speak up this election year about improving policies for working families and children. Courtesy: MomsRising
MomsRising and Every Child Matters are two national groups working together to urge parents to speak up this election year about improving policies for working families and children. Courtesy: MomsRising
December 4, 2015

DES MOINES - Iowa parents could have a lot to say to presidential candidates in the next two months before the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses, and two groups have joined forces to encourage them to speak up.

MomsRising and Every Child Matters say even the busiest working parents need to find time to advocate for better economic security for their families. The groups are organizing house parties across Iowa to mobilize voters and get them talking.

"We are really hoping that this house-party program is an opportunity to engage Iowa voters in their communities to really start the dialogue about these important issues that are facing children, mothers and our families," said Kelli Soyer, Iowa state director of Every Child Matters.

Some of those issues include affordable health care, better childhood nutrition and flexible work options for parents.

MomsRising executive director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner said the goal of the joint project is to address the most pressing concerns facing mothers and children - and there are plenty to discuss.

"Right now, a quarter of young families are living in poverty," she said. "Also right now, we have a changed labor force, where women are 50 percent of the labor force for the first time in history, and three-quarters of moms are in the labor force. So, now is the time to update our workplace policies."

Mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in nearly half of Iowa families, and more than three-quarters of Iowa children live in households where parents work outside the home.

Soyer said Iowans recognize the importance of these issues, and candidates should, too.

"We did research over the summer," she said, "and found that 77 percent of Iowa voters believe the next president should address the health, education and well-being of children."

Yet, Soyer said, three-quarters of Iowa voters also think candidates have not done enough to address those needs.

Rowe-Finkbeiner said her group's current top priority is paid family and medical leave for new parents.

"Right now, only 13 percent of people in our country have access to some form of paid family leave after a new baby arrives," she said. "Studies show that that is hurting businesses because they're having to pay more money for recruitment and retaining, and also it decreases productivity."

The Iowa presidential precinct caucuses will be held on Feb. 1.

More house-party information is online at momsrising.org and caucusforkids.org.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA