No parent should have to choose between caring for a sick child and earning a day’s pay. That’s one of the reasons behind our support for Initiative 1433, the measure to raise the minimum wage statewide and provide paid sick days to all Washington workers.
We know that improving economic security for 1 in 5 Washington parents will fight childhood hunger. And as Children’s Alliance staff and members noted at a Seattle preschool recently, I-1433 also means healthier kids.
The initiative, which affords workers one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, is forecast to make the greatest difference in the lives of children living in
low-income households. Nationally, children in families living below a basic-needs threshold (around $32,000 for a family of two) are half as likely as other kids to have parents who can take time off when they or their children
There are two ways that kids do better when a parent can leave work and tend to their health. First, they get better faster when home sick with a parent present. Second, they are more likely to visit a health professional for the routine check-ups every child needs.
This is also a matter of racial justice. Evidence collected by the nonpartisan Center for Law and Social Policy indicates that the jobs most often performed by people of color are far less likely to offer paid sick days. The retail sector, which has historically disallowed paid sick leave, is more often occupied by Latino working parents than by White working parents. Overall, Black and Latina working women are 14 and 40 percent less likely, respectively, to have jobs with paid sick leave than White working women, according to a 2014 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Paid sick days work for the whole family. Without time off to see a health professional, too many adults forego a trip to the doctor. In 2014, Latinos reported fewer visits to a medical provider than either White or Black workers—a disparity that may be due, in part, to disparate access to paid sick days. The Center also notes that one in five low-wage working mothers reports having lost a job because of her illness or that of a family member.
Whether or not our children reach their full potential is a product of many factors, each of which either works in their favor or threatens their future. These factors are placed on a scale according to their effects. This fall, by voting yes on I-1433, we can put paid sick days on the scale and tip the balance toward positive outcomes for tens of thousands of Washington kids.