The Empowerment Project

The Empowerment Project is a policy initiative focused on empowering women and promoting strong Mississippi families. Through The Empowerment Project, we hope to help families of all stages and phases by providing women with the opportunities and resources to upskill, educate, and grow.

As a starting point, we are proposing an agenda in Mississippi that promotes workplace flexibility, makes quality childcare affordable and accessible, reforms broken foster care and adoption systems, enhances child support enforcement, and supports mothers and their families.

This is a partnership. And these principles don't have to apply only to Mississippi families. The Empowerment Project agenda can work for families all across the country. We need everyone to step up and do their part to make this agenda a reality- lawmakers, nonprofits, businesses, and YOU.

Click HERE to join The Empowerment Project

The Empowerment Project Policy Agenda:

 

Making Quality Childcare More Affordable and Accessible

A lack of access to affordable, quality childcare keeps parents from meaningful career advancement, creates a barrier to steady employment, and leads to productivity losses for businesses. Partnering with the business community, we can unlock our nation's workforce potential by incentivizing employers to provide childcare options for their employees.

Legislative Goals:

  • Expand the tax credit for employers providing child care (adopted in 2023);
  • Authorize a tax credit for certain child care expenses; (adopted in 2023) and,
  • Expand early learning collaboratives (adopted in 2023).

Promoting Workplace Flexibility Policies

Along with accessible and affordable childcare, workplace flexibility consistently ranks as a top need for working parents - especially working mothers. When parents have more flexibility to meet their professional obligations and family needs, not only are their families healthier but employers benefit greatly from increased productivity.

Legislative Goals:

  • Create a state tax credit for employers who provide paid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, and foster placement; and,
  • Enact paid maternity leave for state employees.

 Streamlining and Improving Foster Care and Adoption Systems

The adoption process can be a long and emotional journey both for the child and for the family offering a home and love to a child in need. We can do more to support foster and adoptive parents, streamline the adoption process, and connect children with families where they can thrive.

Legislative Goals:

  • Adopt the recommendations of the Legislature’s Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption by streamlining the process of moving a child to his or her forever home;
  • Authorize courts to use discretion in determining the necessity of home study in adoption (adopted in 2023);
  • Increase the tax credit for quality adoption expenses (adopted in 2023); and,
  • Create a Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (adopted in 2023).

Enhancing Child Support Enforcement

Regular child support payments can be the difference between steady meals and going hungry for many families. For too long, the custodial parents - four out of five of whom are women - have borne the financial burden of child-rearing alone. We must find ways to better enforce child support payments. Sometimes a non-custodial parent’s failure to pay is not always the result of unwillingness, but instead, an inability to pay for a variety of reasons. Our goal is to help those parents, resulting in more engaged fathers, which ultimately means a healthier environment for a child.

Legislative Goals:

  • Require the Gaming Commission and DHS to coordinate efforts to obtain child support arrearages from gaming winnings; and,
  • Allow child support charges to be pursued for 3 years after a child’s 18th birthday to deter gaming the system (adopted in 2023).

Supporting Pregnant Women and Mothers

Public and private organizations provide many resources to families, including maternal health care, infant essentials and education opportunities, but many women are either unaware or unable to navigate all these resources. Whether it’s a mother-to-be or a mother of three, we must ensure women and families of all stages and phases have access to the tools and resources they need to grow and thrive.

Legislative Goals:

  • Implement a state program that will serve as a central location to connect pregnant women, new mothers, and families with information and services (adopted in 2023);
  • Extend pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage to a full twelve months postpartum (adopted in 2023); and,
  • Implement newborn safety devices and a safe haven 911 law (adopted in 2023).

This is my agenda for Mississippi, but these are ideas that can help families thrive in all states. Click HERE to join The Empowerment Project.

Questions? Contact Debbee Hancock at debbee.hancock@ago.ms.gov

Contact Us
601.359.3680
P.O. Box 220, Jackson MS 39205
550 High Street, Jackson MS 39201