AP - Obama Wants More Help for Families
By Amy Lorentzen
Des Moines, IA -- Pledging help for struggling families, Barack Obama said Friday that he and his wife, Michelle, have had their own difficulties balancing careers and family time, including shuttling kids to doctors, daycare and other activities.
"And we had a lot more resources than most people," said Obama, who talked about his plan at a round-table with eight working women. The women shared their thoughts on trying to pay for daycare, having no paid sick days and trying to save for retirement.
Obama, a Democratic presidential contender, said his proposals would expand the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, encourage states to develop programs for paid time off and would double funding for after-school programs. They also would expand the Child and Development Care Tax Credit to help families afford child care expenses.
Obama said he wants more people to be able to take advantage of the law that now allows workers at businesses with at least 50 employees to take unpaid leave to care for ill family members or a new child. He proposes expanding that to businesses with at least 25 people.
He also wants the law to allow for parents to attend their children's academic activities, for employees to address issues of domestic violence or sexual assault in their families or to take care of elderly relatives.
Obama said he would institute a program that would help businesses create flexible work opportunities, and would increase federal incentives for telecommuting. Those things would allow more families time at home together. He also wants to require employers to provide their workers with at least seven paid sick days per year.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed similar plans, including dropping the family and medical leave threshold to 25 employees, getting states to experiment with paid leave and encouraging businesses to allow their workers to spend more time at home on flextime schedules and telecommuting.
Obama said his proposals would help people like his mother.
"I was raised by a single mother and for most of my childhood she was juggling work with also still trying to get her education and raising two kids, and it was tough," he said. "And there were times where she was really feeling as if she didn't have much support."