What issues do we advocate for?
1) Improved policies and public awareness on the disparity of quality, affordable childcare in Boston and Massachusetts. Childcare affects family stability, workforce participation, children’s healthy development and school readiness, and the early education workforce. The childcare system is lacking resources and funding at all levels. Massachusetts is the least affordable state for center-based child care for infants ($20,125 annually) and toddlers ($18,586 annually), and among the least affordable states for four-year-old care ($14,256).Low-income families have fewer options for high-quality childcare.
2) Improved policies and public awareness on the over-criminalization of young women and girls of color in Boston and Massachusetts. Research shows that students of color are victims of the school-to-prison pipeline at alarmingly higher rates than their white peers. Little focus has been given specifically on girls of color whose experiences with regard to discipline and policing in school is only just beginning to be reported and recognized.2 New policy on school discipline practices needs to be informed by an intersectional look at the experiences of girls of color and the effects of police in schools, zero-tolerance discipline practices and different forms of trauma.
State-level Advocacy Priority Legislation
1. An Act to Ensure Gender Parity on Public Boards and Commissions H.2711 / S.1878
Lead Sponsors: Representative Haddad and Senator Lewis
Coalition: YWCA Boston
It is imperative that boards and commissions reflect the diverse populations of the state. The legislation aims to make it a necessity that Boston’s public boards and commission not only focus on diversity through gender and race, but include individuals from: different backgrounds, abilities, and interests. This legislation will alter the balance of power. Currently, women comprise 22% of board/commissioner CEO roles, however, women of color occupy about 2% of these positions and men of color occupy 5%. The legislation would be in place after January 1, 2022.
2. FY20 Budget Amendment to DPH Line Item 4590-1507 for Youth At-Risk Grants
Lead Sponsors: Representative Decker
Coalition: Alliance of YWCAs of Massachusetts
The Alliance of YWCAs of MA are requesting an increase in state funding for fiscal year 2020 in order to support gender-specific violence prevention and leadership development programs for girls and young women at the nine organizations across the state.
3. An Act Supporting Parents Running for Public Office S.408 /H.639
Lead sponsors: Representatives Connolly, Meschino, and Senator Jehlen
Coalition: MA Commission on the Status of Women
With the limited amount of opportunities that come with raising a family and running for public office, this act will enable working parents who are candidates to use campaign funds to cover childcare costs. Candidates are allowed to do so only when childcare hinders the ability to “perform work or attending events directly related to the candidates campaign.”
4. An Act Improving Juvenile Justice Data Collection S.1386/H.2141
Lead sponsors: Representative Tyler and Senator Creem
Coalition: Citizens for Juvenile Justice
This bill is set to correct the lack of transparent data collection in the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts. Massachusetts currently ranks as 4th in the nation when it comes to the racial injustices in juvenile incarceration. Policy makers, families, and community organizations need data on how many youth are given adult sentences, how many minorities are charged with a crime in Massachusetts, and how many youth are found to be delinquent.
The Advocacy Committee is exploring how to support local efforts for safe, equitable schools for girls and quality, affordable childcare through partnerships with City Council, the Mayor’s Office, the Boston Public Schools, and other community organizations.
What does our advocacy work look like?
Legislative advocacy refers to efforts to influence legislation, or official laws. We do this through contacting our legislators – city councilors, state legislators, and federal legislators – to share our views on an issue and ask them to vote a specific way on a bill. We used legislative advocacy to help get Bill S.2119 passed in Massachusetts, an Act to Establish Pay Equity.
Policy decisions and implementation
Policies are rules that inform and regulate how an entity operates. When a law is passed, it is often up to the departments, offices, and organizations that are affected to come up with their own policies to implement the law. Influencing these policies can be just as important as influencing laws. In addition to carrying out laws, organizations also use policies to determine how to spend money, how to prioritize work, and how to address concerning issues. As a nonprofit, we can urge organizations to create policies that will promote equity in all of these areas. We used policy decision advocacy when we urged the City of Boston to invest more in the availability of mental health services.
When several groups share a common goal, they can form a coalition to work together to have that goal met. An advocacy coalition may focus on addressing legal, political, or social issues. We used the method of joining a coalition when we joined with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and other supporters of pay equity.
Mobilization of public support and action
Mobilizing public support and action includes providing information to our network about legislation, policies, or social or political movements related to our mission, and then providing information about how people can take action. This may include asking people to contact their legislator, participate in a rally, or share information on social media about the importance of an issue. We used mobilization of public support when inviting our networks to participate in the Boston Women’s March.