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Advocacy at PEPS

Advocating for equitable policies is one part of our Strategic Direction, which means PEPS will show up for families by taking action on policies that impact equity in our region. We are embracing our responsibility to leverage the large community of parents in our network and will engage with issues and policies that affect parents and babies. Engaging in advocacy is new for PEPS, and it's a learning process. In 2021, we conducted a landscape analysis to identify areas PEPS could have the most impact, and we are excited to move forward in this work!

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy icon
Advocacy: an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions.

People advocate to influence decision-making — at work and home — for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. For PEPS, this includes listening to parent communities and our partner organizations about the needs of the parents they serve. We'll collectively use our voice to raise these needs and make change happen. Most of this work will occur at the state level and some at the local level.

Our Goals for Advocacy

PEPS will not do this in a vacuum but in partnership with groups working together around specific issues. The issues affect expectant and new parents, including maternal and child health, early learning, paid family and medical leave, and other basic needs. These issues were identified in our Community Assessment conducted to gather input from parents and areas that significantly impact parents.

3 points of focus

Our advocacy work will fall into three areas of advocacy:

  1. Policy advocacy: PEPS will shape and uplift policies that prioritize racial equity and help Washington families.
  2. Administrative advocacy: PEPS will work with state agencies when appropriate to implement new policies equitably.
  3. Electoral advocacy: PEPS will educate our communities about local and state ballot initiatives relevant to children and families.

What's Next 

PEPS joined several advocacy coalitions to listen and learn. Advocacy coalitions are an effective way to collect current information about legislative advocacy and policy issues and have multiple groups sharing consistent messages with the community, legislators, and the media. Many advocacy coalitions exist in Washington state, bringing together various stakeholders interested in common policy issues. In the legislative interim, we will continue to participate and learn in these advocacy coalitions and intend to connect with the PEPS community on their advocacy interests.

In the 2022 Washington State Legislative Session, we prioritized the following issues:

  • Simplify Washington State's Paid Family and Medical Leave program.

Families in Washington State are fortunate to have a paid family and medical leave program and policymakers are acknowledging it could be easier to access. One of the key needs is allowing people to enroll in advance of the birth of a child, scheduled surgery, or medical procedure. A bill to propose these changes, SB 5649, was drastically cut back and did not include advance applications. Unfortunately, this is what families need most! Filling out forms while sleep-deprived is likely to result in missed application deadlines, more work, and losing out on needed benefits. PEPS will continue to work with our partners in advocacy to advance this important option in the future.

  • Fund the Perinatal Support Washington Warm Line.

The Warm Line is a helpline for new parents and caregivers experiencing mental health challenges. Operated by Perinatal Support Washington and staffed by licensed therapists and parents with relevant lived experience with perinatal mood and/or anxiety disorders, these support workers are trained to offer effective and understanding support in English and Spanish. This support line can also provide timely support, tailored referrals, and works to reduce the harmful stigma preventing parents from seeking help. An additional $500,000 per year will help the Warm Line reach more parents to offer support, outreach, and education. This funding was included in the Legislature’s final budget, investing $500,000 per year in the Warm Line for the next three years.

  • Fund a diaper subsidy for families receiving cash assistance.

Diapers can cost families with young children $75-100 a month, and families receive neither state nor federal assistance to help pay for these expenses. A local organization, Westside Baby, led a proposal to provide all Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) households with children under the age of 3 a monthly cash grant payment increase to help pay for diapers. This innovative policy (SB 5838) was approved by the Legislature, and the final budget included funding for implementation and a $100 monthly diaper subsidy beginning in November 2023. 

Get Involved

Are you interested in joining us in advocating for families? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to stay up to date on our work!


Sources:

https://www.postpartumdepression.org/resources/statistics
https://www.postpartumdepression.org/postpartum-depression/men

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