The United States, it turns out, is not the best at everything.
“Only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor, making the U.S. an outlier among developed nations.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Lane Community College will host a free film screening of a documentary that addresses the lack of paid parental leave in the U.S., followed by a discussion.
The Raising of America, presented by the progressive group Family Forward Oregon and LCC’s Early Childhood Education Program, focuses on the importance of early childhood care and the relationships between children, their parents and caregivers. The film will address how the absence of social policies that support families impacts the nation.
Laurie Trieger, regional outreach director with Family Forward Oregon, works on issues such as women’s economic security, paid leave, affordable childcare, family and medical leave and the wage gap.
“Colleges are training the next generation of early childhood educators,” Trieger says, “and we want to make sure they’re entering a workforce that supports them with good wages, good working conditions and provides quality care.”
Jean Bishop, a faculty member with LCC’s Early Childhood Education Program, says she hopes many students attend the event. “We have this dilemma where childcare is very high and unaffordable,” she says, “and teachers are being paid very low wages.”
Trieger says that Family Forward’s two main objectives are to raise awareness of the systemic failures in place in the U.S.’ policies surrounding medical and family leave and to engage people who want to become involved as advocates or activists.
“I want [students] to come away not just informed,” Bishop says, “but also inspired to do some advocacy work.” She says she tells students that in order to receive better working terms, they need to advocate for change.
“We are the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t provide, at a minimum, paid maternity leave, let alone some paid familial leave,” Trieger says. “What we’re really wanting to do is just have this country catch up to the rest of the world.”
The Raising of America screening and discussion is 6:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 20, at the LCC Longhouse on the LCC campus, 4000 E. 30th Avenue; the event is free and open to the public.