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Advocates launch Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy

virginia general assemblyMore than 150 Virginians gathered at the State Capitol Monday to kick off the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy to advocate for policies that will help working families in Virginia get ahead.

At the launch announcement, Sen. Jennifer Boysko (SD-33) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (HD-2) introduced paid family and medical leave bills, SB1639 and HB2120, that will allow Virginians to take paid leave from their job if they need to get treatment for a serious illness, take care of a sick family member or care for a new child.

“None of us is guaranteed a smooth path in life,” said Boysko. “Likely all of us will be called upon to provide care for a loved one. I’m proud to be the patron of SB-1639, which will enable companies to provide an option for their employees to care for their loved ones during qualified serious conditions.”

In addition to paid family and medical leave, the campaign will fight for policies that put families first, including access to high-quality child and elder care, affordable college and job training and jobs that pay a living wage. The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy’s policy agenda is designed to create an economy in which hardworking Virginians have more time and money to invest in themselves and the people they love. In turn, the state’s economy will attract the best employees from across the country.

“Virginia families shouldn’t feel like they are alone in the everyday struggles to do a good job at work, put dinner on the table, take care of a sick child and get the bills paid on time,” said Tara Gibson, campaign director at the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy. “We’re all in this together – families, communities, businesses and government – and we all have a responsibility to make things a little bit easier for working families.”

Melissa Alexander, a teacher in Prince William County, spoke at the campaign launch about her harrowing ordeal when her eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer. Melissa was forced to take two years of unpaid leave to care for her.

“There was no other place I wanted to be than at my daughter’s side. But being a caregiver can sometimes be overwhelming and soul-crushing,” she said. “We shouldn’t have the added burden of financial ruin – a burden that paid family and medical leave could help avoid.”

Del. Foy shared why she is a passionate advocate for paid family and medical leave and the bill’s sponsor in the state assembly. Her twins were born prematurely and spent months in intensive care while she was on the campaign trail. She knew she wanted to go to Richmond to represent her community, but she also wanted to be with her young sons as they struggled in their first days of life.

“I’m standing here as a middle-class working mother, and I implore all Virginians to support this,” Foy said. “It is not only an economic issue; it is a human rights issue. It’s a women’s issue. It’s a children’s issue. It is all of our issues. So let’s not just do it because we need to – let’s do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Following the kickoff, supporters of the campaign for a Family Friendly Economy met with their elected officials.

“Virginia needs to build an economy that works for working families, not just the wealthy,” said Gibson. “The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy will be relentless in our efforts to advocate for policies that will allow working families to thrive, communities to flourish and our state to have the strongest economy in the union.”