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Moms take kids to Congress to push paid leave, child care bills

Just days after being celebrated on Mother's Day, a group of around 100 moms brought their children to Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to pass policies that actually support parents, including child care and paid leave.

The moms and their kids gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday and shared how a lack of care infrastructure has impacted their families' lives.

"I was pushed out of full-time work for nearly a decade because I couldn't find affordable child care," Danielle Wilson, a mom from New York City, said at the rally. "I used to be a preschool teacher, but when I was in that job, I couldn't afford care for my own kids. We need to invest so kids, parents and providers can thrive."

She continued, "It's unbelievable to me that any lawmaker would consider cutting funds for child care and health care right now, given what families are facing."

Amber MacQuarrie, of Dublin, New Hampshire, said her family has relied on Medicaid, SNAP -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- and the Child Tax Credit for support over the last several years.

"I'm still struggling to make ends meet as a customer service representative, as my full-time job only pays for rent," MacQuerrie said, adding of the lack of expanded federal support, "It's simply insulting to the moms and caregivers who are working day and night to make ends meet, and raising the next generation who are the future of this country."

PHOTO: MomsRising members and their kids attend a picnic on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to make child care affordable, pass paid leave, support care infrastructure, and raise the debt ceiling, May 17, 2023 in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising)
PHOTO: MomsRising members and their kids attend a picnic on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to make child care affordable, pass paid leave, support care infrastructure, and raise the debt ceiling, May 17, 2023 in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising)

Rally attendees specifically called on Congress to pass the FAMILY Act, which would provider workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave; the Healthy Families Act, which would set a national standard for paid sick leave; the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would offer child care assistance; and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which would offer support to address maternal mortality disparities in the U.S.

"We've come here to tell lawmakers that honoring moms on just one day a year, Mother's Day, is quite simply not enough when moms are working hard, caring with strength, all 365 days a year," said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising, the mom-founded advocacy group that organized the rally. "We are here because we know moms carry our nation and families and deserve leaders who have our backs every single day."

She continued, "Having our backs means advancing policies that give us the tools and the opportunities to build good lives and boost the economy."

PHOTO: Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising Executive Director/CEO joins members and their kids at a picnic on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to make child care affordable, pass paid leave, and support care infrastructure, May 17, 2023, in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising)
PHOTO: Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising Executive Director/CEO joins members and their kids at a picnic on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to make child care affordable, pass paid leave, and support care infrastructure, May 17, 2023, in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising)

In 2022, nearly 73% of mothers with children under the age of 18 were part of the labor force, compared to nearly 93% of dads, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to increase access to child care and provide more support for caregivers, but the directives he ordered did not come with extra funding, so their impact will not be as widely felt.

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Last year, the president pushed Congress to approve major investments in child care, including funding for free, universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-old children nationwide.

After Republicans in Congress blocked that plan, Biden faced additional resistance from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and dropped the investments from a later iteration of a domestic spending plan Congress did pass.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joins MomsRising members and their kids at a picnic on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to make child care affordable, pass paid leave and support care infrastructure, May 17, 2023 in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising)
PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joins MomsRising members and their kids at a picnic on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to make child care affordable, pass paid leave and support care infrastructure, May 17, 2023 in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising)

In 2021, Biden also was blocked by Manchin and all GOP members when he tried to include in his proposed $3.5 trillion social spending bill known as the Build Back Better Act a provision that would give all workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

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In December, Biden said he still has hope for mandatory paid sick leave, saying, "That fight isn't over."

Currently, the U.S. is part of only a small pool of countries worldwide that do not guarantee paid leave.

ABC News' Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

Moms take kids to Congress to push paid leave, child care bills originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com