Children, Youth, and Families
“As a mother, I think about the future of our children. They’ll be running the city someday and we need to give them the resources they need to be everything they can be.”
If the federal and state government will not invest in children and families then the city needs to step up to fill the gap. St. Louis needs a progressive mayor who will re-imagine local government to help support children from birth through college. I will work towards making St. Louis a thriving place for families by providing quality education options, access to safe recreation, and equitable parental leave policies.
Protection of Reproductive Rights and Advocacy for Women’s Health
Mothers manage the majority of their families’ health care decisions. Their own reproductive health – and the rights surrounding it – can be a constant concern. Women need to feel confident that they will not be discriminated against (in civic life and/or in the workplace) for choices related to their own autonomous health decisions (e.g., the decision to carry a pregnancy to term, the decision to have an abortion, etc.)
In St. Louis, residency starts at birth. The mayor needs to serve a direct role in making sure babies receive the services they need so that they are started on the path to success before they have even taken their first step. The St. Louis region creates “haves” and “have nots” as early as in utero – women of lesser means receive far less prenatal care and education than women with resources. The city of St. Louis should work with families to ensure they know all of the options available to them.
Finland provides every new mother in the country with a “baby box” containing baby clothes, a sleeping bag, bathing products for the baby, diapers, bedding and a small mattress. Every expectant mother in St. Louis should be given a similar package with resources to help reduce infant mortality and ensure healthy development for all children. When I am mayor, the St. Louis baby kit will provide information regarding:
- Prenatal and postnatal care
- Healthy Development Support
- Pre-School and nursery programs
- College savings programs
- Nutrition programs
- Safety information (Car seats, gun locks, smoke detectors, lead testing…)
- Health department contacts
While the mayor doesn’t have direct control of the school district, that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be a better partner. As mayor, I will promote:
- Expansion of Pre-Kindergarten options in public schools
- Consolidation or merger of the St. Louis Public Schools with surrounding school districts
- Adequate funding for schools by reforming tax incentives for developers to shield the public school portion of taxes from being a part of incentive packages
- An open door policy for conversation between my office and school administrators
- Public funding for the first two years of community college for any student in the public schools who maintains a C average through junior and senior years
- Research and implementation of the best charter school models
- Closure of low-performing charter schools
- Reestablishment of the mayor’s educational liaison position
- Partner with local companies, nonprofits, and city departments to remove barriers to education for students, teachers and families
College Kids Savings Program
As Treasurer, I started the second ever municipal college savings program in the country. Research from Washington University shows children who receive a college savings account with less than $500 are four times more likely to complete college than their peers without accounts. As mayor, I will continue to support and expand St. Louis’s college savings program.
Year-Round Youth Jobs
Many youth are forced to compete with adults for entry-level jobs which provide critical work experience. I will take the good work of St. Louis Youth Jobs, and expand youth employment opportunities beyond the summer and provide meaningful jobs year-round. Any new application for city incentives will be required to list the number of youth jobs the project will create.
Paid Family Leave
As a mother, I understand how important it is for parents not to be punished for balancing family and career. Paid family leave should be the norm, and parents should have the power to advocate for flexible work schedules that allow them to further their careers while spending time with their children. No parent should face the danger of losing his or her job because her or she had to stay home with a sick child. The United States is the only country that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, and Missouri is 43rd in financial assistance for families. St. Louis should be in the vanguard of municipalities pushing for paid parental leave. Currently, the city’s policy requires employees to have worked at the job for 12 months before being able to apply for unpaid leave under the family and medical leave act. The same act states that if the employee is a “key employee,” he or she may lose their job if they need to take family leave. The employer can also take five days to respond to requests – sometimes five days would be too long for an employee to wait.
Cities and states across the country are beginning to address the problems that arise out of policies like these. St. Louis needs to be among them. New York State, through an initiative called “Strong Families, Strong NY,” passed a bill that, through a small payroll deduction, will allow for 50% of the statewide average salary to be paid to an employee during leave periods, with the goal of eventually paying up to 67% of the statewide average salary. Washington DC passed a payroll tax that guarantees private sector employees eight weeks of paid leave for a new child, six weeks for employees caring for a sick family member, and two weeks for personal sick time. While California already required 55% of an employee’s salary to be paid for six weeks to new parents bonding with a new child, San Francisco took it upon itself to require businesses with 20 or more employees to make up the remaining 45% of the employee’s salary for those six weeks. As mayor, I will work with the community, city departments, and the private sector to find the solution that fits St. Louis.
Access to recreation for all generations
The city must expand access to recreation and school-sponsored community centers. The city should make membership at a recreation center part of every city employee’s compensation. St. Louis is lucky that there is a park in nearly every neighborhood, but people need to be able to walk safely to and from those parks. That means sidewalks have to meet ADA requirements, crosswalks need to be observed, and planning efforts need to focus on density, access to transportation, and access to recreation. The city must also develop housing and transportation options that promote accessibility and affordability for seniors and work to create intergenerational communities.