Monday, March 09, 2009

President's Obama's family policy agenda

It's ambitious. Highlights:

* Strengthen Fatherhood and Families: Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. President Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.

* Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit:
In both the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate, Obama championed efforts to expand the EITC, which is one of the most successful anti-poverty programs to date. President Obama will reward work by increasing the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to parents who support their children through child support payments, and reducing the EITC marriage penalty which hurts low-income families. Under the Obama-Biden plan, full-time workers making minimum wage will get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get today. If the workers are responsibly supporting their children on child support, the Obama-Biden plan will give those workers a benefit of $1,110.

* Extend Paid Sick Days to All Workers: Half of all private sector workers have no paid sick days and the problem is worse for employees in low-paying jobs, where less than a quarter receive any paid sick days. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year.

* Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA covers only certain people who work for employers with 50 or more employees. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees, and to cover more purposes including allowing: leave for workers who provide elder care; 24 hours of leave each year for parents to participate in their children's academic activities at school; leave for workers who care for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault.

* Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: President Barack Obama will initiate a 50 state strategy to encourage all of the states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama and Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.

* Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.

* Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination:
Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will commit the government to enforcing recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.

* Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will address this concern by creating a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules for productivity and establishing positive workplaces; helping businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increasing federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama and Biden will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to petition to request flexible arrangements.

* Support Parents with Young Children: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand programs like the successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama-Biden plan will assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.


Will said...

How about doing something about the abuse of the system towards non-custodial parents? How is it that a custodial parent can take a child across state lines, completely throwing away the court ordered right to visitation by the non-custodial parent, and nothing happens to them? If the custodial parent withholds payment because of this, they face jail time, but the non-custodial parent gets slapped on the wrist.

I think our president needs to focus on fixing the system and making it fair to both parents and the children before he makes it worse.

more4justice said...

I feel your pain. However, it is not only the non custodial parent who suffers. The system has and continues to fail a father legally granted sole custody, a decision provided in conjuction with what would be in the best interest of the children. I was originally awarded temporary custody in 2006 unfortunately before I could have the order served and enforced per the outcome of the divorce she disappeared from the state and it was not until a few years later with investigative help in locating her and my children was I then able to move forward in the divorce. In 2008 after the courts attempted mediation, the judge growing concerned moved to have to have divorce finalized by default so as to allow possible criminal action that could promote me being reunited with my children. To date the last time I seen my children was in 2005 and despite being granted sole custody no one seems to care. The only concern the courts and the Department of Children and Familiy services has is making sure I am financially accountable, not the many violations of law that she has and continues to do. The family court nor child support enforcement, both supposed promoters of fatherhood and increased fathers involvement have done one thing congruent to the fathers initiative. President Obama fails every family, every expected family, and the famillies of tomorrow by blinding looking past what is fast becoming a great concern. The system spends massive amounts of money trying to get those fathers who dont want to be invloved to be involved. Instead of focusing on those who scratch and claw at ever single shred of hope to one day see their children again.