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Policy Update: February 20, 2015


A quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.


Valentine’s Day prompted some interesting media about marriage, motherhood, and how much things have changed.  In 8 facts on love, marriage, and childbearing in America  the Brookings Institute notes that “While Americans may not be getting married, they’re still having children. More than 40 percent of new mothers are unmarried. And while many are living with a partner when their child is born, “half will split up with that partner by the time their child is five years old.”  Considering the lower income of unmarried mothers and the effects of growing up in economic insecurity, the impact of this shift will be felt for generations to come.

Is parental sleep deprivation a public health issue?  Exhaustion causes accidents, and decreases productivity at work to the tune of $100 billion every year.  This article from the Washington Post says change must come from parents and political leaders too. “In order to truly shift attitudes, healthy sleeping needs to be placed firmly on the policy agenda. It will necessitate that leaders understand the very deep impact that a national sleep deficit can have on public health and on the economy…. Governments should view this type of proactive intervention as an investment.”

In the face of Congressional inaction on paid family leave, states have made strides and enacted their own programs.  How’s that going so far?  The experiences of California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are analyzed in First Impressions; Comparing State Paid Family Leave Programs in Their First Years from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The Affordable Care Act changed health insurance by requiring underwriters to cover medical costs arising from maternity care, which was typically not included before its enactment.  However, what if you don’t register for coverage during the open enrollment period, and then become pregnant?  The cost is all on you.  According to NPR, women’s advocates are now trying to change that, to allow pregnant women to secure coverage at any time.  With half of all pregnancies unplanned, millions of women now face having to pay for all their prenatal and delivery medical costs – easily in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Talk about a mood-killer…

Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.


Photo credit: iStock photo/NPR


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