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Archive for the ‘Families’ Category

20 Years Ago, America Became a More Family Friendly Nation – And we Must Do It Again

Posted by YWM on February 15, 2013

debra nessDebra Ness, President, National Partnership

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post

February 5, marked a historic and celebratory moment in our nation’s history.

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton signed into law the very first bill of his administration, and its first word is “family.” Since then, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has enabled millions of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters to get and provide critical care without risking their jobs or health insurance protections. It has provided job-protected, unpaid leave for moms and dads to care for babies, adult children to care for ailing older parents, workers to recover from serious illness, and much more.

At the National Partnership — then the Women’s Legal Defense Fund — the signing of the FMLA was the culmination of years of leadership and hard work drafting, coalition building, advocating, communicating, occasionally compromising and, most importantly, never giving up on our vision for a more family-friendly America.

“Groundbreaking” is a word that’s thrown around a lot, but this victory truly was. The FMLA is the first national law ever to help Americans manage the dual demands of work and family. It was made possible by a broad coalition of 200 diverse groups and by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who knew it was time to start changing the culture in this country.

And we prevailed, for the good of the nation.

Today, 20 years later, the FMLA has been used more than 100 million times. Many Americans take for granted that working people have access to job-protected, unpaid leave when serious medical needs arise — a testament to the great success of the law. For an entire generation, taking leave under the FMLA has been a fundamental, unquestioned right.

The tremendous impact of the FMLA on people’s lives and the culture of the nation are real reasons for us all to celebrate. But this anniversary is also a stark reminder of how long it has been since lawmakers have come together to prioritize the needs of America’s working families. And data from the Department of Labor (DOL), released just yesterday, make painfully clear the urgency for further progress.

According to the DOL’s first survey of the FMLA in 13 years, 40 percent of the workforce is not covered by the FMLA’s protections. And the inability to afford to take unpaid leave is the most common reason workers who are covered by the law say they didn’t take leave when they needed it. (A more detailed analysis of the DOL’s findings can be found here.)

These gaps are the result of dramatic changes in our workforce in the past two decades, and the fact that the FMLA was meant to be just a first step on the road to a family-friendly America. Twenty years later, the country has yet to take the next step. And the bipartisanship and commitment to a better country for working people that made FMLA possible seems a distant and fading memory.

Fortunately, there is hope. More and more lawmakers and others recognize family-friendly policies as essential to families’ economic security, to the success of businesses, and to restoring the vitality of our nation’s economy.

The American public recognizes this as well. There are significant opportunities for progress on the horizon, and a growing body of research that shows that Americans, across demographic and party lines, want — and urgently need — Congress to move the country forward. In fact, according to recent polling, the overwhelming majority of Americans say they struggle to manage work and family obligations. Eighty-six percent say Congress should consider new laws that would help, like a paid family and medical leave insurance program.

Paid leave policies benefit working families, businesses and our national economy. They keep people working, level the playing field for businesses, reduce reliance on public assistance and much, much more. Paid leave policies are win-win-win, and it is time for members of Congress to make the introduction and passage of a national standard a top priority.

Twenty years ago, America became a more family friendly nation. We can — and must — do it again.

You can find out more about the FMLA, its history, and the need for next steps at www.NationalPartnership.org/FMLA.

Posted in Families, Financial Security, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Poll Shows Bipartisan Voter Mandate for Family Friendly Workplace Policies

Posted by sherrysaunders on December 5, 2012

national partnership

By the National Partnership for Women & Families

Following a divisive election, new poll results released by the National Partnership for Women & Families reveal that the nation’s voters are united in their support for making the nation’s workplaces more family friendly. Across party and demographic lines, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they struggle to manage their work and family responsibilities — and that they think it is important for Congress and the president to consider policies that would help, such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance.

“America’s working families are being forced to make impossible choices between the well-being of their families and their financial security every day because our nation’s workplace policies are badly out of sync with the needs of today’s workers and families,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “These new survey data clearly show that no matter which candidate voters supported for president this election, they are feeling the pressure of out-of-date workplace policies, and they want action to fix them.”

The bipartisan poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group, found that 86 percent of voters nationwide said it is important for Congress and the president to consider new laws like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance to help keep families financially secure. Nearly two-thirds said it is “very important.” Other key findings include:

  • Strong support across party lines: 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents and 96 percent of Democrats said congressional and presidential attention to family friendly policies is important.
  • Latinos, African Americans, women and young people — the very voter groups much talked about for their impact this election — felt strongest about the importance of congressional and presidential action: 79 percent of Latinos, 77 percent of African Americans, 69 percent of women and 68 percent of people under 30 considered it “very important.”
  • There is a near universal experience of struggle and hardship in trying to meet work, family and personal responsibilities: Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) said they experience these challenges at least somewhat often, and nearly four in 10 said they experience conflict “all the time” or “very often.”
  • Similarly, nearly three-quarters of voters (72 percent) said they and their families would be likely to face significant financial hardships if they had a serious illness, had to care for a family member with a serious illness, or had a new child.

“There is near universal agreement among voters of all political parties that balancing work, family and personal responsibilities is a challenge,” said Brian Nienaber, vice president at The Tarrance Group. “Voters also strongly agree that a major life altering event like a new child or a seriously ill relative would cause them significant financial hardships.”

“This poll shows that voters want and need family friendly policies that help protect their economic security when illness strikes or babies are born,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Across the board, voters are struggling to manage their responsibilities on the job and at home, they are worried about the financial impact of major health events, and they want lawmakers to adopt policies that will help. The support for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave insurance is strong and broad-based.”

The Healthy Families Act, which was introduced this Congress, would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care or provide care for a sick family member. It currently has 118 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 cosponsors in the Senate.

Members of Congress are also expected to work on a national family and medical leave insurance proposal that would create a federal insurance-based system to provide up to 60 days of partially-paid time off to workers to address their own serious health conditions, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or care for a newborn, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child.

“This new poll adds to an overwhelming body of evidence showing that the public strongly supports common sense, family friendly workplace policies,” said Vicki Shabo, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership. “It’s time for Congress to focus on the real challenges facing real people in this country and prioritize passage of modest, reasonable proposals like the Healthy Families Act and a national paid family and medical leave insurance program that would go a long way toward protecting the health and economic stability of our families while also strengthening our economy.”

The survey of 1,220 adults who indicated they had already voted or were likely to vote was conducted by telephone from November 4 to November 6, 2012. The sample included both landlines and mobile phones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The topline results of the poll can be found here: www.NationalPartnership.org/ElectionPoll

Posted in Economy, Families, Research, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Employment and Career Issues Confronting Military Spouses

Posted by YWM on May 11, 2012

May is Military Appreciation Month and May 12 is Military Spouse Day.  These are truly our unsung heroes.

The success of our nation’s all-volunteer military force depends to a large extent on the unwavering support of our nation’s military spouses. More than 2.2 million service members comprise our nation’s active duty, National Guard and Reserve forces. According to the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), more than 55% of military members are married — meaning there are more than 1.2 million military spouses who are often left behind during deployments to manage their households, families and careers. According to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) nearly 1.15 million, or 95% of those military spouses are women, an overwhelming majority of whom want and/or need to work. Unfortunately, 26% of military spouses are unemployed. This is three times the unemployment rate of their civilian counterparts.

Surveys of military spouses indicate that satisfaction with employment and career development significantly affects their well-being. The military community is predominantly a family-oriented environment and family life issues play a strong role in a service member’s decisions to remain in the military.  For more than a decade, operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have challenged retention and reenlistment in the military. Reenlistment is such a concern, that the Department of Defense (DoD) increased their budget for reenlistment bonuses from $864 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion in 2008. While this financial compensation is can be a significant reason for reenlisting, a DoD and Treasury report found that “a spouse’s employment [also] plays a key role in the financial and personal well-being of military families, and their job satisfaction is an important component of the retention of service members. Without adequate support for military spouses and their career objectives, the military could have trouble retaining service members.” In fact, “when the spouse is supportive, reenlistment is more likely than if the spouse is not supportive” (Scarville, 1990). This brings us right back to spousal employment, the second ranked issue of concern for military families (Blue Star Families, 2010).

Blue Star Families, an organization committed to supporting, connecting and empowering military families and known for constantly capturing real-time feedback, surveyed military spouses and found that half of the respondents said that being a military spouse had a negative effect on their ability to pursue a career. This is not simply a perception. A 2010 RAND report cited nine studies, spanning 30 years, that conclude military wives work and earn less in the U.S. labor market than their civilian counterparts — despite being on average, better educated. The DMDC concludes, “the majority of military spouses believe that the military lifestyle — including frequent moves, deployments and long hours that keep service members from assisting with parenting, and living in areas with poor local labor market conditions — has negatively affected their employment opportunities.” For example, as a result of frequent moves, spouses working in professions requiring state licenses or certification bear a higher financial and administrative burden since credentials often do not transfer across states. In addition, more than 13% of those spouses whose careers have been impacted negatively by their military lifestyle have experienced some type of discrimination due to their status as a military spouse (Blue Star Families, 2010).

Military spouses are increasingly recognized for their stellar abilities to juggle work, school and children, household finances, military and civilian networks and expectations, frequent moves, emotional stressors of a spouse who may not be consistently present, and a host of other events which are part of their “normal” day. Military spouses are well educated: 84 percent have some college; 25 percent have a bachelor’s degree; and 10 percent have an advanced degree (MSEP, 2012). More than two-thirds have work experience (DMDC, 2008), and 38 percent have high levels of education for their current jobs (RAND, 2010). Furthermore, spouses volunteer three times more than civilians, and tend to take on a the more demanding leadership roles in their volunteer organizations (Blue Star Families, 2010). It is only fitting that these skills be viewed by potential employers as adaptable, resilient, persistent and dedicated. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case.

Over the past few years, Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation has championed women veterans and military spouses in their efforts to succeed in civilian careers. BPW Foundation’s work is based on nearly a decade of research on the challenges facing military women as they endeavor to find civilian employment. In 2005, BPW Foundation made a commitment to better understand the employment transition of women veterans. The research highlighted translation and portability of skills as major obstacles and underscored an overwhelming gap in career and employment support among the growing population of military women upon their return to civilian life. Armed with this learning, BPW Foundation initiated studies and engaged private and public sector partners to outline employment access strategies.

You can support military spouses by becoming a mentor though Business and Professional Women’s Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™. This free program provides training and resources for mentors so you can share your life and work experiences with a military spouse.  This effort builds on BPW Foundation’s long legacy of working women helping women work.

This blog is excerpted from Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™, Military Spouses: Employment and Careers Issue Brief, May 2021

Posted in Families, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Military Families, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Families of Our Fallen Military: Rebuilding Lives After Loss

Posted by YWM on May 2, 2012

Bonnie Carroll
Founder and president of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post, April 17, 2012

It starts with a knock at the door. Two uniformed officers are standing outside, and they ask to come in. Before they speak, the family knows what will be said. They are just hoping it’s not true. Then they hear the words, “We regret to inform you…” and the life of a military family is changed forever.

The death of a loved one in service to America starts a military family down a new path — one of grief and loss. We embrace and support hundreds of these families through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). It is a unique journey that requires specialized care and support.

Several factors make military loss unusual.

Death while in service to country can happen in many ways. Service members die from many causes — they die in combat, training accidents, suicides, homicides or illness, both in war zones and elsewhere.

From 2001 to 2011, about 16,700 American service members died worldwide. Less than 30 percent of these deaths (about 5,000), even with two wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, happened in combat or by hostile act. Currently more service members are dying by suicide than in combat in Afghanistan.

Public meaning is associated with the death. It is a death in service to country. Language like “paid the ultimate sacrifice” assigns greater meaning by society to the death. One survivor said, “It felt like he belonged to so many more people than just our family. He belonged to the community too.”

In the rocky days following the worst moments of their lives, surviving military families organize funerals, speak in sound bytes, are photographed by the news media, and lead the community in mourning. If the death carries stigma, such as a suicide, the family often carries additional emotional scars.

Death impacts many people in a family. On average, at least 10 people are significantly impacted by the death of a service member. They are wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and a wide range of relatives.

We intake on average seven new people a day at TAPS, who are grieving the death of someone who served in the military. At least one to two of them will be grieving a death by suicide. For many of them, calling TAPS may be the first time they have ever talked with someone else who understands what military loss is like.

The grief journey can be complicated and last for years. More than 80 percent of our families are grieving a death that was unexpected, traumatic and often violent. These circumstances leave surviving families more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues. It takes five to seven years, on average, for people to reach a new normal, following the sudden death of a loved one.

The military family loses its identity and can struggle. The spouse and children left behind after a military death also lose their identity as a military family. They lose the supportive and structured lifestyle of a military family. And may move to a new community where they know few people, or return to a “hometown” they have not lived in for many years.

Their military identification cards are changed, and they are forever labeled as survivors of someone who served and died — literally stamped “deceased.” Children may lose the last home they lived in with the person who died, as well as their friends from school, teachers and other community support, at a time when they need these touchstones the most.

One young widow who lost her husband in combat in Iraq while she was in her twenties told us, “I always thought that the military would tell us where we would live. After my husband died, I had to figure out where to go for myself, and define what our lives would become. On top of that, I was coping with his death and taking care of our infant daughter. The decisions felt overwhelming, and even paralyzing.”

Thankfully, they don’t have to make this journey alone. At TAPS, our 24/7 resource and information helpline fields 21,000 calls annually. We offer regional seminars for adults and good grief camps for children around the country and throughout the year. Our online chat room, message boards and email support groups buzz with activity daily. TAPS care groups link survivors in communities across America and our peer mentoring program pairs up newly-bereaved survivors with others who have experienced a similar loss.

They’re people like Elizabeth Church, who was eight months pregnant when her husband died by suicide. She found a supportive companion in Carla Stumpf Patton, who years earlier, had also lost her Marine husband to suicide when she was eight months pregnant. Carla understood what Beth was going through, in a way that few other people could. With care and support, Beth is building today a new life for herself and her daughter.

With care and support, surviving military families are able to work through their pain and remember the love that they shared with their service member. They can even celebrate the life that they shared with that person who died and share their journey to help others.

Bonnie Carroll is the founder and president of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). She is the widow of Army Brigadier General Tom Carroll, who died in a military aviation accident in 1992 and she founded TAPS in 1994 alongside other military families. TAPS offers comfort and care to anyone grieving a loved one who died while serving in the military. More information about TAPS is available at www.taps.org. Bonnie is also a member of  the Joining Forces Mentoring Advisory Council.

Posted in Families, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military Families, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Women Veterans Speak Out: Each one, reach one: Helping homeless veterans

Posted by Joan Grey on April 16, 2012

Read the latest article in BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.

I’ve been part of a spirituality group since I moved to Virginia two years ago.  At one session, I proclaimed to the group that I was interested in social change but not inclined to open my house to a homeless person. Within the year, I had a chance to eat those words.

One of the group members sent an email asking if anyone had space for a woman who was living in her car.  We had a spare room, which is how I met Lynn.  She was a former military spouse who worked as a contractor but lost her source of income when her contract was cancelled.  So Lynn and then her cat (who was evicted from a foster home) came to live with us for four months. During the time she was with us, I introduced Lynn to a college friend, Mary, who provided an insider referral to Mary’s company. Lynn was hired and works for the company to this day.

No matter what your age, educational credentials, or even security clearance (important for employment in DC), many people don’t have the financial cushion to deal with emergencies or loss of income. When you aren’t sure where you’re going to spend the night, it’s hard to focus on much else. Veterans seem to be facing homelessness at a higher rate than the US population at large and women veterans are experiencing an even harder time finding secure housing.

There is no single reason why homelessness is more of an issue for veterans. It may be that they have no family safety net. Many young adults end up living with their parents after they college or if they find themselves between jobs.  According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, homelessness results when individuals cannot resolve life’s basic issues without assistance. Generally, these problems fall into three categories: health issues, economic hardships, and lack of affordable housing.

While BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is focused on helping with career transitions and advancement for women veterans and military spouses, our mentors are aware that you can’t concentrate on revising your resume when you are sleeping in your car.  In developing Mentoring Plus, we are linking with organizations that help house and outfit women veterans.  Since launching the program in January, we have been affililiating with resource and community partners who can help veterans. Some DC-based Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ partners include Final Salute and Women Veterans Interactive (WVI).  As WVI CEO, Ginger Miller, said, “Our goal is to serve the whole women veteran by meeting her at her point of need.”

The core competency of BPW Foundation is Working•Women•Helping•Women•Work, not homelessness, but we have connections with partners who have special expertise in a variety of areas including housing. Some resources for homeless vets in the DC metro area include: Doorways for Women and Families: http://www.doorwaysva.org/, New Hope Housing: http://www.newhopehousing.org/?page_id=163, and Northern Virginia Family Service: http://www.nvfs.org/ .

While the government provides a safety net for when things go wrong, each of us has the ability to be of service. We are not asking you to open your house, but to reach out a hand. How can you help? Give back to those who have given much. Consider sharing your expertise by becoming a mentor to a woman veteran or military spouse.  BPW’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ program provides training and tools to help you be a successful mentor.  Check out the Mentoring Plus website and sign up. http://www.joiningforcesmentoringplus.org/ Also, connect with us on social media: BPW Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ LinkedIn. Join us on Facebook. Follow BPW on Twitter.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something. What will you do today?

Posted in Families, Financial Security, Homelessness, Joining Forces, mature workers, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

It’s Not an Obama Thing; It’s a Families Need Healthcare Thing

Posted by YWM on March 7, 2012

Remarks delivered by

Byllye Avery, Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices for Health Care
at the HERvotes Press Conference March 1, 2012

In 1970, three organizations, National Women’s Health Network, Mergerwatch and Avery Institute for Social Change founded Raising Women’s Voices to make sure women’s voices and needs were a part of health care discussions and reform legislation.

We are pleased to join HERvotes at this press conference because of its commitment to look at the full spectrum of women’s lives and all of the issues facing women and their families.  Because we know that everything is interrelated.

Women’s health care is under attack at the local, state and federal level, with direct aim being taken at reproductive health.  While reproductive health is important to us other issue are also important such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, prevention services, violence against women, maternity care, and most importantly access to affordable quality care.

What good is it to live in a country that brags about having the best health care in the world if you can’t get it?  We measure our health care system from the wrong end of the stick.

The Affordable Care Act (ACE) is one of the best pieces of legislation ever passed, since Medicare and Social Security. It has the potential of providing affordable care, well-women services, ending discrimination in care, and enforcement of best medical practices.  It can do for the health of women and their families in this country what Title IX has done for women in sports.

When I talk to women of color they understand and fully support ACE.  It means health coverage and access that can improve qualify of life for themselves and their families.  This isn’t an Obama thing; it is a families need healthcare thing.

We need the ideological attacks against women’s access to reproductive services and the hostile legislation targeting women at all levels of government to stop.

We say to the press – Talk to the Women.  We demand that politicians start focusing on the tough domestic and global issues our country faces and we say to them – Stop your cowardly firing at women’s health from the comfort of your cultural war bunkers.

We are proud that Bylly Avery is our guest blogger today.  She is truly an historic woman living in our time.  Ms. Avery, Founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the National Black Women’s Health Project,  has dedicated her life to helping and inspiring women.  A winner of the MacArthur Foundation Genius award, she has been honored more times than we can list but here are just a few: Lifetime Television’s Trailblazer Award, Essence magazine Award for Community Service and the President’s Citation of the American Public Health Association.  She is a clinical professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard School of Public Health.

Posted in Families, Health, HERvotes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

International Women’s Day is just around the corner!

Posted by egehl on February 29, 2012

International Women’s Day is just around the corner and will be celebrated this year on March 8th!

International Women’s Day was first observed in the early 1900’s in an effort to draw global attention to the fight for women’s equality and rights to work, vote, hold public office, and to ultimately end gender discrimination.  In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating March 8th as International Women’s Day.  Each year a theme is chosen and this year’s theme is “Empower Rural Women-End Hunger and Poverty”.

For women around the world, the day symbolizes an opportunity to reflect on the strides they have made and to call on new generations of women to participate in the work of making our world more gender equitable.  It’s an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development, and an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change in the future.

There are many ways to honor and participate in International Women’s Day.  Personally, I support the day as a Women for Women International sponsor and donor.

I’ve sponsored 7 women survivors of war who have participated in a year-long program run by Women for Women International that educates and empowers them to improve their economic, personal, and social opportunities.  I have enjoyed playing a small role in supporting women internationally so that more doors are open to them to not only better their lives, but the lives of their families.  As a woman who has been given so many luxuries and privileges over my lifetime, I feel that it’s important that women around the world have the chance to access the same opportunities.  Women for Women International will be celebrating International Women’s Day by participating in the third annual Women in the World Summit held in New York City.

There are a variety of activities happening here and around the world in honor of International Women’s Day.  Over 1,000 events have been registered on the International Women’s Day website.  Thus far, the United States and the UK have the most events planned.

There is also still time to plan your own event!  For example, Women’s World Banking has put together a toolkit on how to organize an event on or around March 8th.  No event is too small and they can range from hosting a tea, attending a lecture, or participating in a benefit walk.  Women’s World Banking is a micro-finance network working to help women around the globe become full participants in the economies of their countries.  Learn more about the organization and view a copy of their International Women’s Day toolkit to gain ideas on what to do this year.

With the surge of social media, you can follow International Women’s Day on Twitter and there is a designated Facebook page as well.

I think the most important thing about International Women’s Day is that in addition to the equity struggles we continue to experience here at home, we need to remember the plight of women abroad who have the same needs, goals and desires as us.  However unfortunately often times they face greater barriers to achieve them. Therefore due to our unique position in the world as American women we should take active steps to support them.  You can start by participating in an International Women’s Day event in your community.

Posted in Families, Gender Discrimination, Women's History Month | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

State Action Needed to Assist Military Spouses with Professional License Issues

Posted by sherrysaunders on February 16, 2012

I was pleased to represent BPW Foundation at the announcement of the new report on military spouse employment that First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey presented at the Pentagon on Wednesday, February 15th.  The report, “Supporting our Military Families: Best Practices for Streamlining Occupational Licensing Across State Lines,” explains the hardship military spouses face as they move from state to state with their service member. As a result of the many moves associated with military life, spouses working in professions that require state licenses or certification bear a higher high financial and administrative burden, since credentials often do not transfer from one state do to another state. This burden negatively impacts the chances for employment for more than 100,000 military spouses.

The First Lady urged states to pass legislation based on the best practices already in place in several states and said she personally would be urging governors and state legislators to move quickly to put in place rules that would assist military spouses.   She along with all of the other speakers noted the importance of the family in the success of our mission and said that cutting red tape on the portability of occupational licenses would be a big step in easing the burden on military families as they move from state to state.

Eleven of 50 states have already enacted legislation that supports portability of occupational licenses for military spouses including: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Thirteen states have proposed legislation that would assist military spouses if signed into law including: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Among the nearly 50 professions that state licensure requirements affect are teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, dental hygienists, physical therapists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, physician assistants, emergency medical technicians and dieticians, the release said, noting that 11 of 50 states have enacted legislation that supports portability for military spouses with occupational licenses

The report provides practical, real and concrete suggestions that states can use as they consider their own legislation.  The First Lady stressed that the report is a road map for states with ideas and suggestions and not an edict or decree.

The report is just one step in the Obama administration’s Joining Forces initiative, launched  by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to bring together the resources of many government agencies and private sector groups to support military members, veterans and their families. This report was a joint effort of the Departments of Defense and Treasury.

This issue has been a priority for the Pentagon for sometime, having set up a Facebook page during summer to encourage military spouses to advocate for states to change their licensing rules.

BPW Foundation strongly supports this effort by the Administration to help our military families and urges you to find out what your state requirements are on portability of licenses for military spouses and if they are working to  make it easier for a military spouse transferred to your state.  Check with your state legislators.

You can also help our women veterans and military spouses by becoming a mentor.  BPW Foundations Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus®is built on our long history of women helping women.  Join us in this effort to give back to those who have given so much.

Posted in Families, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Successful Workplaces | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – Acknowledging Homeless Women Veterans

Posted by danielleac on January 2, 2012

Read the latest article of BPW Foundation’s every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.  If you are a women veteran who would like to share your story, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email dcorazza@bpwfoundation.org.

Acknowledging Homeless Women Veterans

by Debbie Metcalf (as printed in the Asheville Citizen-Times)


The horrible situation of being homeless — not having a place to call your own, to lay down in your own bed, make coffee in your own kitchen, and play with your kids in your own den — is made worse if you’re a homeless female veteran, by feelings of embarrassment for being in that situation and anger for having faithfully served our country and still not have a home when you get out.

They come in all shapes and sizes, with varying goals for their lives and differing ideas on how to best attain them. Some of these women are mothers with dependent children to care for. Some are going to school to further their education and increase their work skills. Some of these women are victims of sexual harassment and abuse while serving in the military. Some are addicts and alcoholics. Some are religious and some are not. Some are gay and some are straight. Their lives are as varied as ours.

But their life experiences are very different from ours in that they are experiencing a form of betrayal that most of us have never known. They came home from service in the military to a society that seems to ignore the fact that women have played a vital role in the U.S. armed services for many decades. And contrary to popular thought, women have always been exposed to and participated in very dangerous situations in the military. These women have been injured and experienced loss and sadness while working to serve their country, just as the male veterans. Now, they are homeless.

Asheville is a great area to live and work. We have so many philanthropic organizations that assist people in need. I’m a proud native of Asheville. There are nonprofits dedicated to protecting our rivers, mountains, downtown, greenways, animals, civil rights, air. We have nonprofits to protect handicapped persons and victims of domestic violence, rape, PTSD, child abuse, hate crimes. We also have nonprofits that offer assistance to homeless individuals. The problem in Asheville is that homeless male veterans have a specific place to call their own, whereas homeless female veterans do not have such a facility. The federal government has extended grants to nonprofits to assist homeless veterans in our area. The males have the Veterans Restoration Center at Oteen that houses only male veterans. The women, however, are allocated only 10 beds at the Steadfast House, a homeless shelter that houses all homeless women. Many homeless female veterans are discouraged to accept this housing because of the stringent interviewing process that many feel discriminates against them. These female veterans are also many times left out of the loop about veteran issues and programs available to assist women to achieve their goals in becoming self-sufficient. The homeless female veterans in our area need a transitional facility that serves only veterans and provides information related to their veteran status. It’s only fair.

Homeless female veterans have unique experiences and needs from the general homeless female population. We are committed to doing what we can to bring greater equality for these women. They deserve a group working for them, since they are being short-changed by the existing organizations that are funded to assist homeless vets. It’s the age-old problem of sexism in our society. Women who have served in the military are victims of a patriarchal culture that devalues their worth, minimizing their involvement in the service of our country. We need to stand up for these voiceless women who are living at the mercies of a patriarchal organization and get them some real help; the kind of help that will get them out of their current situation and into a place of their own. They have much to offer society. But first we need to offer them a hand-up so they can get their lives back in order.These women need clothes to wear to job interviews. They need transportation to appointments and sometimes assistance completing applications for housing, food assistance, school, employment. They need a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night, until they can get a permanent place of their own. We are working to make that happen.

For more information on the effort to end homelessness among the women veteran population in Asheville, contact Debbie at mzdjm@live.com


Posted in Families, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

From Gen Y Women to Employers: What You Need to Know about Work-Life Balance

Posted by knbarrett on November 30, 2011

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation recently released From Gen Y Women to Employers: What They Want in the Workplace and Why it Matters for Business, a report that explores Gen Y women’s career choices and the opportunities and challenges they face in the workplace. Results from our national survey of Gen Y (born 1978-1994) women challenged popular perceptions of Gen Y women in the workplace. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the key misconceptions across four thematic areas: work values, work-life balance, gender in the workplace and inter-generational workplace dynamics.

By Kara Nichols Barrett, lead project researcher

Today’s topic is work-life balance. Over 660 Gen Y told us about:

  • the relative importance of work-life balance;
  • their definition of work-life balance;
  • challenges to achieving work-life balance; and
  • individual and employer strategies for achieving work-life balance.

Here are the top “do’s” and “don’ts” from Gen Y women to employers on work-life balance.

Don’t underestimate its importance. We know it sounds like a broken record to state yet again that Gen Y women value work-life balance. But, work-life balance is REALLY important. Ninety-six percent of us ranked it as either very important or important. What’s more, the importance we place on work-life balance cuts across our key areas of difference: occupation, marital status, and whether or not we have children. Too often work-life balance is treated only as work-family conflict. This approach misses the mark in three important ways.

  1. It excludes Gen Y workers without children. Work-life balance is equally important to us whether or not we have children. When work-life balance programs and policies favor workers with children, formal and informal rules often preclude Gen Y workers from work-life programs.
  2. It narrowly defines “family.” Almost three-quarters of us reported that family is very important. We are granddaughters, daughters, sisters, aunts, spouses and partners. Our family responsibilities extend beyond the nuclear family.
  3. It disregards responsibilities and interests outside of work and home. There’s more to life than work and home. In addition to work and family, the following aspects of life are also important to us: hobbies (55%), friends (44%), exercise (43%), and volunteering (36%).

Do ask us what it means. Just because the majority of us believe work-life balance is important doesn’t mean that we all understand or define it the same way. Twenty-five percent of us want to maintain separate spheres, 50% want to integrate work and life and 18% believe that work-life balance is really about workplaces better reflecting the realities of the workforce.

Don’t expect us to live up to the 1960s “ideal worker.” We aren’t looking for a policy or programmatic fix; we want different workplace assumptions and rules. Too many of our workplaces are built off of the 1960s “ideal worker” – the worker who is available anytime, anywhere and for as long as you need. Most of us don’t want to be that worker. Most of us believe that work is important and can be meaningful and enjoyable, but we don’t want to mistake our jobs for our lives. If you are really serious about addressing our work-life challenges, you’ll have to explore assumptions about the “ideal worker” and the role of work in an employee’s life.

Do focus on work arrangements.  We know there’s a wide range of programmatic options for employers looking to boost work-life balance. No one is going to complain about onsite health services or a games room, but we suggest that you start with how work is structured. We want programs that address when, where and how work is done. Thirty-seven percent of us said that the most important program an employer could offer is flexible scheduling, 26% said results-based orientation and 15% said telecommuting.

Be sure to check out Chapter Two of the report for a complete overview of our work-life balance research findings and employer implications and applications.

This research, funded from the Virginia Allan Young Careerist Grant, is part of BPW Foundation’s ongoing “Young Careerist” research project that since 2005 has been exploring the career opportunities and challenges facing today’s young working women.  The research gives voice to a distinct group of working women who are vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce.  Research has been conducted using social media, focus groups and this national survey. To find all of the research and this report, visit our Young Careerist website.

Posted in Families, Gen Y, Research, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »