Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/1899 Fri, 16 Nov 2018 11:59:48 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Providing Stronger Support for Breastfeeding Mothers in New York City http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7874-providing-stronger-support-for-breastfeeding-mothers-in-new-york-city http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7874-providing-stronger-support-for-breastfeeding-mothers-in-new-york-city dc8tpaouwaal45h

Council Member Laurie Cumbo, the author (right), with her son, Prince (photo:@cmlauriecumbo)


If we are truly committed to the health, well-being, and economic advancement of mothers and babies, we must examine our public spaces, work places, and cultural biases when it comes to supporting and accommodating a mother’s choice to breastfeed. As of only a few weeks ago, mothers can now breastfeed legally in all 50 states without fear of violating laws pertaining to indecent exposure or public obscenity. This is a low bar for celebration, and cause for a critical examination of our own local laws and societal norms.

The benefits of breastfeeding are long-known and widely accepted in the medical community – the World Health Organization recommends that babies are breastfed for at least the first six months of their lives. The health benefits for babies include lower rates of obesity, SIDS, asthma, and other conditions, and can even be traced to higher IQs. For mothers, breastfeeding lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, and certain types of ovarian and breast cancers. It is for these reasons, and for the purpose of defending a mother’s right to choose what they do with their bodies and how they take care of their children, that we must remain diligent in our efforts to identify and break down any barriers for mothers who choose to breastfeed.

Those of us holding elected office must all leverage our positions and platforms to advance breastfeeding rights and awareness. We must make sure that mothers know all the facts about breastfeeding, what they are entitled to and what resources are available to them, should they choose to breastfeed.

Here, in New York, we have strong laws and we are increasing our investment at the state and local level in support of breastfeeding mothers. I am proud to have made breastfeeding rights a focal point of my time in office, with legislation advancing greater education and access for those who need to breastfeed or express milk in public or in the workplace. Right now, the Mother’s Day Legislative Package, which I was proud to spearhead on my very own first Mother’s Day, has pending legislation that will expand accommodations for breastfeeding mothers in certain city spaces and in workplaces, as well as establish a standard lactation accommodation policy. I thank my colleagues, Council Members Robert Cornegy and Carlina Rivera, for their leadership and partnership on these breastfeeding bills. I am committed to seeing through these efforts and ensuring that our physical structures reflect our values of equity and inclusion.

As a mother of a now one-year-old myself, I have a new appreciation for and understanding of the literal and figurative structures that play a role in the lives of New York mothers. From pre-natal care to childbirth and child rearing, there is a culture of expectation that women are just supposed to know how to take care of themselves and their children based on instinct alone. Far too many women are not getting the resources they need. Further, as recent research has shown, health concerns expressed during childbirth are often not taken seriously, resulting in a much higher mortality rates for black and Latina women. The truth is, we all need guidance and support throughout the pregnancy, birthing and nurturing process, which is why we must continue to expand and center the needs of mothers in public and working spaces. Every mother is different, as is every child, and our ultimate goal should be to support and uplift all mothers, regardless of whether they choose to breastfeed.

One personal breastfeeding experience of note was when I was able to use one of the Department of Health’s “lactation pods” at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. What struck me about my experience was how welcoming the environment was. Breastfeeding is often framed as an inconvenience, but in this instance, I felt proud and encouraged. The unfortunate reality is that this is an uncommon experience for breastfeeding mothers. More often than not, new mothers in the workplace have to seek out any space they can find — some report even having to pump in a closet. This is inexcusable and detrimental to the dignity and well-being of working mothers everywhere.

It is going to take a dedicated, comprehensive approach and a fundamental reimagining of working motherhood, but I know that we can achieve it. Moms continue to show up for each other, time and time again, but it is time we show up for them. We must stand with them and do everything in our power as individuals and as a collective society to better support their needs. Breastfeeding takes a village. It is a mental, physical, emotional, and logistical act. August is National Breastfeeding Awareness month, and so there is no better time than now to commit to a better tomorrow for mothers and children in New York City.

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Laurie Cumbo is the majority leader of the New York City Council. She represents Brooklyn communities of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. On Twitter @cmlauriecumbo.

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Providing Stronger Support for Breastfeeding Mothers in New York City Sun, 19 Aug 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Espaillat Unveils Plan to Address Child Care Costs http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6387-espaillat-unveils-plan-to-address-child-care-costs http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6387-espaillat-unveils-plan-to-address-child-care-costs Espaillat news conference

Sen. Espaillat (photo: @EspaillatNY)


To address the city’s escalating affordability crisis, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Democratic candidate in the 13th Congressional District, is unveiling a proposal to increase the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

The announcement comes as the heated Congressional primary enters its final weeks. Espaillat’s campaign is announcing a series of policy papers in an attempt to separate itself in a race that has focused on political allegiances, polls, and fundraising. Other candidates vying to replace retiring Rep. Charles Rangel include Assemblymember Keith Wright, former Assemblymember Adam Clayton Powell, Assemblymemeber Guillermo Linares, and Clyde Williams, former political director of the Democratic National Committee. Espaillat unsuccessfully challenged Rangel in 2012 and 2014. This year’s primary is set for June 28.

“I think there is a growing affordability crisis in the city and the state that has been framed around rent and the minimum wage, but not that fine-tuned to address issues young families face as far child care,” Espaillat told Gotham Gazette. “There are big costs these families face to live in the city while trying to raise kids. Some parents won’t go to work if they aren’t sure their children are receiving proper care.”

Espaillat cites a study by Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office that shows child care costs for city residents rising $1,612 per family each year. The study further shows that the average New York City family spends up to $16,250 per year on child care for an infant, $11,648 for a toddler and $9,620 for a school-age child. Gillibrand, like Rangel, has endorsed Wright in the congressional race. Espaillat said he had not spoken to the senator about his plan.

Espaillat’s plan would increase the CDCTC for families with children under four, allow families to claim 50 percent of child care costs up to $6,000 per child, and increase the maximum credit for families receiving federal, state, and city credits by 43 percent per child, making the maximum credit $8,775 per child.

Only families making under $30,000 a year with children under four years of age are eligible for the city tax credit. Families of all income levels with children up to the age of 13 are eligible for the state and federal credits, but the credits shrink depending on income. The state and city CDCTC are calculated as a percentage of the federal credit, so an increase to the federal plan would in turn boost state and local aid.

Espaillat’s policy paper estimates that “A family receiving the maximum federal, state, and city credits would receive $6,143-just over one-third the average price of child care for an infant in New York City. But a family earning $50,000 with a three-year-old child would only receive $2,400. This is a massive burden on New York City’s working- and middle-class families.”

Espaillat said he believes his proposal is one that could attract bipartisan support and gain traction in Congress because people across the country struggle to pay for child care. “This cuts across state and party lines,” Espaillat told Gotham Gazette. “This is like student loans; it has universal appeal whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or independent.”

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by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Espaillat Unveils Plan to Address Child Care Costs Thu, 09 Jun 2016 04:00:00 +0000