It is our position that once Basic Needs have been addressed, it is impossible for women to achieve economic security if they do not have equal and fair access to education and jobs. So together with relevant organization Partners, the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition advocates for policies, legislation, and resources that facilitate women getting education and training that enables them to acquire employment that provides a living wage, competitive benefits, retirement security and opportunities to advance according to their goals and abilities.
Family caregiving responsibilities extend from the cradle to the grave. Caregiving duties for children, family members with disabilities, and older family members frequently interrupt the family caregiver’s ability to be an ongoing member of the workforce.
Women are the majority of family caregivers (60%), and as a group live longer than men and earn less during their lifetimes. Income-related losses for family caregivers age 50 and older who must leave the workforce to provide care average more than $300,000 over a caregiver’s lifetime. Caregiving has a disproportionate economic impact on women’s lifetime earnings, contributing to their impoverishment in old age. Therefore, BCWAC works to educate caregivers, elected officials and the community on the need for financial recognition of family caregiving services, employment flexibility and protections for caregivers, and public and private support solutions to ease the burden.
Making Work Pay / Cliff Effect
Throughout Pennsylvania the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition and the Making Work Pay PA (MWPP) statewide coalition, which the BCWAC founded, are endeavoring to help working families avoid slipping back into dire financial straits when they receive a raise at work that results in the loss of crucial work supports, e.g. child care subsidies. That phenomenon is known as the “cliff effect”, and creates disincentives for low income working families to earn more money.
Because of efforts of BCWAC and State Senator Chuck McIlhinney (R-PA), the bipartisan Legislative Budget and Finance Committee of the Pennsylvania Assembly has released a comprehensive, objective report on the status of family support programs in the Commonwealth. The study outlines strategic recommendations to reduce the number of families living in poverty by addressing the impacts of the “cliff effect.” The MWPP Coalition is currently sharing the report, and seeking appropriate implementation of the legislative and administrative systemic statewide changes that can make navigating the public benefits programs easier for low income working families as they move toward building assets and becoming economically self-reliant. Please join this advocacy work at www.makingworkpaypa.org.
Press Release: December 9, 2015
Long Anticipated ‘Cliff Effect’ Study Released
Wage and Benefits
BCWAC believes that women must have an adequate supply of employment opportunities which pay family sustaining wages. In Pennsylvania, 45% of workers are women. Full-time median earnings of women are 78.8% of their male counterparts. Pennsylvania ranks 26th among all states in equal pay for women. The wage gap has a significant impact on the lives of women from high school graduation to retirement. Compared to men with the same level of education, a woman high school graduate makes $700,000 less, a college graduate makes $1.2 million less, and a professional school graduate makes $2 million less over a lifetime. Nearly three times as many women as men live at subsistence level in old age. Minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour, the lowest permitted by federal law. Minimum wage employees working full time year round will make $14,500, which puts a single parent with two children $4,000 below the poverty line. This is why the BCWAC is working to support:
- Equal pay for equal work
- Raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10, but preferably $12 or $15 to be closer to livable wages with cost of living adjustments (COLA).
- Earned Paid Sick Leave so women don’t have to work while sick.
- Expanding Family and Medical Leave to include siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren who are unpaid family caregivers.
Pre-K and Education
Investments in high-quality pre-kindergarten have a significant long-term effect on children, which benefits our schools and communities. There are nearly 300,000 three and four-year-olds in Pennsylvania, but only about one in six are enrolled in publicly funded, high quality pre-k.
The Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition supports increased funding for quality pre-school. BCWAC believes government, schools, unions and nonprofits should provide support for women and girls to prepare for careers that lead to self-sufficiency and pursue nontraditional occupations. Also laws and funding should provide for education and training programs that address the needs of specific groups of women, e.g., displaced homemakers and women veterans.