WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Strolling Thunder came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, asking lawmakers to ‘think babies’ and prioritize legislation to help working families.
One Louisiana mother said that starting at three weeks old, her son was in and out of the hospital but she couldn’t afford to take time off from work.
“Each day after returning to work I cried, I watched him on my camera and I called to check on him as often as I could,” Anna Akins said.
She and families from all 50 states came to Washington as part of ‘Strolling Thunder,’ an effort to raise their concerns with Congress.
Some of the changes these families are asking lawmakers for include a national paid family leave policy and access to more affordable childcare.
Myra Jones-Taylor with the non-profit Zero to Three says lawmakers need to prioritize children and families.
“We have paid family leave in seven states, but for the families who live in 43 other states that’s not good enough,” Jones-Taylor said.
Speak Nancy Pelosi says now is the time to pass legislation.
“We have to understand that every day, every week, every month, every year in the life of a child makes a difference in that child’s future,” she said.
Parents say they know the importance of early education but can’t always afford it.
“All of our family members are watching him throughout the week because we can’t afford childcare, it’s too expensive,” said Utah mom Marcella Gattis.
North Dakota mom Kathryn Dockter has a child with mental health issues and wishes there could be more resources for families like hers.
“So our threshold for childcare assistance is very low. So for working families above the poverty line is not a lot of options and our daughter Valerie has a lot of behavioral issues so a lot of private preschools wouldn’t accept a child like her,” she says.
The group wants Congress to prioritize consistent funding for healthcare and education.