The HFA team is excited to welcome a new group of students to our summer 2021 internship program! They will be participating in our annual Advocacy internship virtually, developing their passion in health care policy and self-advocacy. They will be participating in regular webinars and online training about legislative, policy and advocacy issues, learning more about hearings and what it means to work on Capitol Hill, building communications and media skills, and more.
Check out this week’s Intern Introspective:
Many of the congressional hearings I have listened to in the past weeks focus on a topic that is not only incredibly pertinent to the bleeding disorders community but is pertinent to all Americans: access to affordable childcare. A combination of low wages paid聽for those working in childcare, rigid parental leave plans offered by employers and high costs for childcare have rendered many parents forced to either leave their work or switch careers as they are unable to balance the demands of their work life and family life. This puts many parents in an impossible catch-22 situation in which parents must work in order to be able to support their families but are unable to provide for their families in this manner as they are not able to acquire the essential childcare that they need.
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Mondaire Jones have co-sponsored an ambitious plan to bring equitable and affordable childcare to all Americans, entitled the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act. This proposal was first introduced in 2019, but was recently reintroduced back into both the Congress and the Senate, involving a $700 billion investment in childhood care for all Americans. The core services under this act consist of universal, affordable access for childcare. Federal investments would fund Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Home all across the nation that families of all income levels and employment statuses would be able to utilize. These services would also provide a pre-K curriculum for its enrollees to promote early childhood education. It also ensures that families below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, which is about a $53,000 annual salary for a family of four, would be able to access these programs free of charge. Families with higher incomes would be charged on an income-based sliding scale, but their costs would never exceed more than 7% of their income. In order to boost essential employment needed to keep an expanded national childcare service running, the act will raise wages for child-care workers to a level comparable to public school teachers and invest in higher quality worker training and professional development programs.
With unemployment rates at an all-time high during the pandemic, the issue of affordable and accessible childcare became even more pressing and has started to receive previously unprecedented attention in Congress. In fact, the Committee of Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which is a committee that focuses on economic policy, held their first ever hearing on the topic of childcare in the history of their existence. Although the circumstances for the emergence of this issue in this committee are less than ideal, the prospect of childcare鈥檚 impact on the US economy being discussed in Congress is an exciting one nonetheless, as it proves that a growing number of committees will be focusing on a diverse range of policy priorities for the future. Throughout the course of this internship, I look forward to tracking developments on child-care related policy.
What I have really found so appealing in this internship is that there are so many different ways to connect. I have always been the only person in my class, or at my school, or in my dorm or on my sports team who has hemophilia. It felt very lonely at times,聽especially when I was not able to attend school because I was having a bleed. Now, I have other interns to get to know and I can reach out to a broader community of people with bleeding disorders through the different opportunities that HFA offers.
Through the internship, I can be involved at the advocacy level and learn more about how to help people in the community with access to services. I can fundraise either with my local chapter or through HFA. I can even share my experiences through writing and hope to connect with others. There are so many ways to feel connection to people even though this disorder is very rare, and I think that had I not been selected for this internship I would not have even realized them.
Check back next week to hear more about the work our interns are doing at HFA.
Thank you to Takeda for a charitable donation for making the Policy and Government Relations internship possible.