A Family-Led Movement
The Equal Voice National Family Platform calls on the country’s leaders to take a comprehensive – rather than piece-by-piece – policy approach to the challenges low-wage and working families face every day. This Platform was created by and represents the collective voices of more than 50,000 families. The Foundation supports this family-led movement to effect and change public policy and address entrenched poverty and its effects on a national level.
An Equal Voice
In 2007, the Foundation supported The Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign in an effort to bring grantees and their constituents together across geographies, cultures, and issues to inaugurate a cohesive national movement.
The Foundation convened 65 town hall meetings with over 30,000 families participating. Their testimonies were synthesized into the first-ever National Family Platform. Adopted in June, 2008, the platform asked decision makers to adopt a families-first agenda and to insert the voices of low-income families into the national dialogue.
A Blueprint for Change
We believe that living in poverty has an impact on virtually every aspect of families’ lives: the work they do, the quality of their children’s education, their health, safety and security. This movement is about making those connections across the spectrum of life. Families have identified the following interrelated issues as integral to their economic and social well-being.
Support immigration reform that keeps families intact. Provide more pathways to citizenship. Separate the responsibilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the police.
Build affordable housing. Prevent families from being displaced by development and gentrification. Protect the rights of tenants.
Provide universal access to affordable health and dental care, including mental health services. Ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met. Improve public programs, such as Medicaid, by making them simpler to apply to and easier to access.
Pass living wage laws. Enforce labor laws for all workers, including domestic workers. Stop wage theft. Provide paid sick days for workers. Promote local hiring and workforce development.
Increase access to quality, affordable childcare for families of all economic backgrounds. Invest more money in child care subsidies and early childhood education. Prepare young children to succeed.
Criminal Justice Reform
Address the criminal justice system’s disparate impact on communities of color. Reinstate voting rights and eligibility for safety-net programs for ex-offenders upon their parole. Help ex-offenders to rebuild and keep their families together.
Food Security/Access to Healthy Food
Ensure that all families have access to affordable, healthy food.
Ensure that all families have access to clean air and safe water. Guarantee that low-income families are fairly represented in all land use, regulation, and community development decisions.
Guarantee access to safe, reliable, and affordable public transportation that serves all families where they live, work and go to school. Invest in transportation infrastructure.
Strengthen leadership and organizing skills of youth so that they can take an active role in their communities. Prepare youth to succeed in college and the workplace. Support summer jobs programs for youth.
Provide adequate, affordable housing, and care for all seniors to live with dignity. Protect economic security. Support grandparents raising grandchildren.
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Stop predatory small-dollar lenders from charging unreasonable interest rates. Give consumers reasonable options to keep out of endless debt traps. Keep big banks out of the payday loan business.
Support the success of all students. Involve parents in school decisions and in their children’s education. Eliminate zero-tolerance policies that push students out of school. Provide access to college preparation classes. Make college more affordable.
Restore voting rights to people with past criminal convictions. Modernize voter registration to include automatic registration for all eligible individuals. Fight discrimination against voters, and work toward giving all Americans an equal voice in our democracy.
Day on the Hill
On February 12, 2009, one hundred and fifty families from 12 states traveled to Washington DC as part of the Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign to hand-deliver the National Family Platform directly to the offices of their Representatives.
An Evolving Call to Action
In 2012, the Foundation and grantee organizations hosted the first online Equal Voice National Convention to update the National Family Platform. In addition to physical gatherings in three cities, thousands of low-income families participated via smart phones, Twitter, streaming chat, photographs, Facebook, text messages, emails, and satellite links. In 2016, grantees and families came together again to adopt the latest version of the platform.
As the movement continues to grow, the Foundation supports it by bringing families together – across geography, cultures and issues – to call for an Equal Voice in the decisions that affect their communities and their lives.