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City Kids Day Care Issue: Time to Contact Legislators

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Since City Kid Day Care's recent public statement to the Columbus Dispatch make it pretty clear that they do not plan on backing down when it comes to their ridiculous policy on the handling of breast milk, it's now time to start a push for new state guidelines or new legislation that would prevent day care centers from discriminating against a child because of the food they eat.

With that in mind, I've drafted my own letter to state representatives and state senators and will be sending it to all of the legislators that supported our 2005 breastfeeding in public bill. I'll also be sending a slightly revised version to all of my local representatives. I would strongly encourage all of my Lactivist readers to do the same. (If you don't live in Ohio, forward this link to someone who does. Better yet...consider revising this letter and making a push in your OWN state. After all, unless you live in Louisiana, there's nothing to prevent day care centers near you from doing the same thing City Kids Day Care is doing.)

Here's the letter that I'm sending...

Dear Representative,

I am writing to alert you of an issue currently taking place in Columbus, Ohio (and many other cities in our great state and nation) that puts at risk both a mother's ability to find quality care for her child should she need or choose to return to the work force and that same child's long-term health. Because I know that you are a proponent of families, I am asking you to consider sponsoring new legislation that would protect the rights of working mothers and their breastfed children.

I am currently working with a mother named Robin Neorr here in central Ohio. Robin, like many moms, had to return to work while her daughter was still an infant. Where Robin differs from many moms is in her dedication to providing expressed breast milk for her daughter while her daughter was in day care. This is not an easy task for most working mothers, but Robin strongly felt that her child both needed and deserved to have the best nutrition possible.

The problem is that Robin had a difficult time finding a day care center that had space for her infant daughter. When she did, she was told that the center would not handle her breast milk. Robin was told that she would need to arrange to have a prepared bottle dropped off every time that her daughter needed to eat because the center would not store breast milk on the premises. Robin was eventually able to convince the center to handle her milk, but the center charged her a fee of an extra $50 a week to handle it.

I am covering the story extensively on my blog at: http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/ I am also assisting Robin in her quest to gain media attention over this unfair, unfounded and discriminatory practice. The story has recently appeared on Channel 6 news in Columbus and made the front page of The Columbus Dispatch.

Since beginning to work with Robin I have spoken with many mothers that have had similar issues, including one mom that eventually lost her job because she had to take so much time off to deliver bottles of breast milk to a day care center that refused to handle it. Many moms have told me that they could not locate a day care center that would handle breast milk at all.

Working mothers should not be forced to choose between their job and their ability to breastfeed their child. Day care centers should not have the right to dictate the diet of the children that attend their centers.

I have also learned that Louisiana is the only state in the union that specifically prohibits discrimination against breastfed children by day care centers. (LRS 46. 1409 B 5)

This presents Ohio with an enormous opportunity to take progressive steps toward promoting the rights of children in our great state. Ohio's breastfeeding rates are among the lowest in the nation. In fact, Ohio falls in the bottom ten in terms of breastfeeding initiation rates. The health benefits of breast milk are undisputed. It can only help our state in terms of health care costs and productivity to do whatever possible to encourage breastfeeding.

I greatly appreciate your involvement in helping to pass the 2005 changes to the Ohio Revised Code that helped give breastfeeding mothers increased protection while feeding their children in public. I would now ask that you consider working with Robin and I to introduce new legislation that would keep state certified day care centers from discriminating against children based on the fact that they are breastfed.

Jennifer Laycock
Sunbury, Ohio

You can get in on the act too. Feel free to modify my letter or to craft one of your own. You can find the email address of your Ohio State Representative and State Senator online.

Once again ladies, let's spread the word far and wide. It's not just Ohio that needs this put in place. There are 49 states out there that we need to get to work in. We can not let this issue die until it has been resolved.

I'll also remind Lactivist readers that if you haven't already emailed me, but are interested in attending any nurse-in or nurse-out that is organized to support the need for legislation, please drop me an email and I'll add you to my notification list. I've already got mother's all over the state ready to drive in and even a few from out of state. Let's prepare for one of the largest nurse-ins the midwest has ever seen.

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