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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 will participate in several advocacy coalitions to listen and learn in the near term. 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.

We will prioritize these policy proposals during the 2022 Washington State Legislative Session:

  • 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. Simplifying the process for families to sign up for the program will help families when they need it the most. The steps we need to take towards improving the accessibility include: (1) allowing people to enroll in advance of the birth of a child, scheduled surgery, or medical procedure and (2) streamlining the application and enrollment process for medical leave and bonding leave after baby's arrival. A bill to propose changes to this program,  SB 5649, is in progress and on the move! 

  • 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 disorder, 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.

Before the onset of the pandemic, postpartum depression was experienced by 1 in 71 new moms and 1 in 42 new dads. The stresses and impact of the pandemic are resulting in new parents and caregivers experiencing significantly higher rates of distress. With additional funding, The Warm Line is expected to help reach more parents to offer support, outreach, and education. The proposal for this investment is supported by the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Work Group and was included in Governor Inslee's proposed state budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

  • 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, is leading the proposal to provide all Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) households with children under the age of three, an average 20% cash grant payment increase to help pay for diapers. This increase would provide additional, unrestricted cash to families at a point when expenses for raising a child are highest. This proposed monthly subsidy is a policy solution meant to provide meaningful support to the most vulnerable families who pay too much of their already limited income on diapers. This proposal is highlighted in bill HB 1947 and SB.5838 and would cost $10.5 million per year once implemented in September 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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