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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Nshangalume: Our Parents Are Struggling

It is time for the state of Utah to look around and strengthen its family environment.
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Sam Garcia
(Design by Sam Garcia | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Many think of Utah as a hub where young couples and families can come to peacefully raise their children. However, this dream falls apart after some research. Parents across the state struggle to make ends meet, while simultaneously trying to give their children the best childhood.

Rep. Stephanie Gricius and Sen. Wayne Harper are sponsoring H.B. 75, which would allow for more parents and guardians to raise newborn children. This bill addresses which state employees get paid leave. It does so by modifying the current paid leave legislation that only allows birth parents to take leave. Further, this bill will allow for case-by-case basis modifications for special circumstances.

It is time for the state of Utah to look around and strengthen its family environment. Parents and guardians deserve the right to take care of their families without the need to break their backs and banks.

Family-Friendly, Where?

Gov. Spencer Cox and his office love to boast Utah’s supposed family-friendly environment. “Utah is known as the most family-friendly state in the nation and Gov. Cox is committed to keeping it that way,” states the governor’s website.

However, a recent study published by WalletHub determined that Utah is the 15th best state for families, meaning that Gov. Cox’s statement is not completely true. While Utah still manages to rank as one of the top states, there is still work to be done.

In a different report by Status of Women in the States, Utah ranked 48th in the Child Care Index and 50th in the Work and Family Category. The Child Care Index Category reports Utah’s childcare accessibility and affordability, while the Work and Family category measures paid leave legislation and labor gender gaps amongst of parents of children under six.

Utah has a long way to go to ensure that parents and guardians get the proper care and resources needed to raise the future generations of our state.

It Starts with the Parents

Currently, Utah only allows state employees — not including those working at institutions of higher education — up to three work weeks of paid parental leave. This is 21 weeks lower than the recommended paid leave of 24 weeks.

With only three weeks to adjust to life with a newborn, many parents are left with strained relationships with their children. Parents — especially mothers — are forced to choose between their careers and children because of the lack of sufficient policies that accommodate their needs.

Three weeks of paid parental leave is not enough. Dr. Suzanne Bovone, an OB-GYN, highlights just a few risk factors in not providing parents the proper rest they need to function as parents and employees. These risks range from the inability to think due to strained mental health.

Further, longer paid parental leave for all allows parents to focus on bonding with their children and increase gender equality between women and men.

Utah Lawmakers Strike Again

Seeing that Utah takes the spot for the highest population of children in the U.S., despite our lack of parent-friendly programs and initiatives leaves room for concern.

Thanks to federal pandemic relief funds, daycare owners were able to cover their basic expenses of rent and supplies and lower-income families received childcare subsidies. However, this aid has been exhausted, leaving the state to scramble to keep many of these daycares open.

Even with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ strong family-centered influence on the state, Utah still manages to lack in incorporating pro-family and pro-childcare legislation.

These trends leave Utah parents with fewer avenues to successfully start a family.

The Parents Need Help

Raising children should not be the nightmare it is—we must better support parents.

If we keep up these behaviors, we will find ourselves in an unpleasant and uncomfortable situation. Recent census data found that fewer families are moving to Utah. This is an alarming trend that will send Utah into a failing state—economically and socially.

We must remember that parents are the ones raising the future of our state, country and world. We must provide parents with the right tools and resources they need to raise competent and flourishing adults.

 

[email protected] 

@iragilume

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About the Contributors
Iragi Nshangalume, Opinion Writer
(she/her) Iragi Nshangalume is an Opinion Writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle. Iragi grew up around the Salt Lake valley, but spent most spent of her childhood in West Valley and Magna. She’s currently pursing her degree in Economics and Political Science. Outside of school and work, Iragi enjoys talking, music and the arts!
Sam Garcia, Designer
(she/her) Sam Garcia is a junior studying Graphic Design and minoring in Computer Science. She has a bubbly and energetic personality. Loves drawing, painting, taking care of her plants, and getting shredded at the gym.

Comments (1)

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  • B

    Bia GoncalvesMar 5, 2024 at 8:55 am

    Great article! This is something citizens should press the state to take action now.
    Thank you for opening our eyes.

    Reply