Our 2021 Legislative Priorities

January 30, 2021

How we respond to this crisis matters.

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the many cracks in our systems that Family Forward Oregon has been working to address for years. Mothers and caregivers—especially those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)—have been disproportionately impacted by the mishandling of our response thus far. We now have the opportunity to reflect on past policy decisions that put our communities in greater jeopardy, and create a different path and a more equitable state going forward.

That’s why, in 2021, Family Forward Oregon will be focused on policies that:

Rebuild our child care system & supply

The need for sustained public investment has never been clearer. It will take a long-term, sustained effort to build a new publicly funded statewide child care system that is universal, equitable, and truly works for all our families. In the meantime, we can start by protecting our current investments in the Employment Related Day Care program (ERDC) and spend this funding to better serve eligible children and the providers that serve them. ERDC is currently the largest single purchaser of child care in Oregon, playing a critical role in the financial sustainability of child care providers, subsidy recipient families and the child care market as a whole. But the way ERDC is administered is hurting children, families and child care providers. Our policy bill reforms ERDC into a child care assistance program that better serves low-income and BIPOC families, as well as provides fair compensation for the child care business owners and educators—predominantly women and BIPOC women—who perform this critical work.

Ensure equity in Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) implementation

Public health officials recommend that people who are sick or exposed to COVID-19 should stay home; school buildings have been shuttered; and workplaces have been closed or transitioned to telework. Benefits such as sick time and family and medical leave are essential for employees to follow these guidelines and protect their ability to pay rent and keep food on the table. While the Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program will not be fully up and running until 2023, we are more assured than ever that implementing this program equitably is essential to the health and well-being of all Oregonians

Expand access to mental health care for BIPOC communities

Oregon’s current mental health care system can often have the adverse effect of creating more harm for BIPOC communities because of the lack of culturally-competent services and providers. This is especially true for pediatric mental health care.

  • Currently, even when an adult or child has health insurance and/or qualifies for Medicaid they often lack sufficient mental health care coverage.
  • Adults and children who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color often struggle to find care that is offered by BIPOC providers and/or is culturally competent.
  • Many others systematically lack access to health insurance and care because of their documentation status.

In 2021, we’ll be working to change this. Our goal is to increase access to BIPOC providers and culturally-competent mental health care for BIPOC mothers, children, caregivers, immigrants, and refugees across the state.

Influence federal policy around caregiving & COVID-19 support

We will continue to work with federal and other state partners to move forward on child care, paid family and medical leave, and paid sick days on a national level. We will also work to coordinate support for, and organizing around, federal supports for families during COVID-19.

Pass the Fair Shot for All agenda

As a founding coalition partner, we’re all in to pass the full Fair Shot for All 2021 Legislative Agenda. This year’s agenda includes a focus on policies that:

  • Provide child care & other basic needs to every family.
  • Build a stronger, safer workforce for every worker.
  • Protect immigrant rights.
  • Establish justice for all.
  • Ensure environmental justice.