Monday, October 12, 2009

Parent Protection Act and CO-AGE (Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Aging)

Yesterday the 9to5 Atlanta staff had a busy legislative agenda. While several of the staff members headed to the office of Senator Chambliss to talk about the Healthy Families Act (more on that meeting to come), Shyria and I made the two and a half hour long trek to Little Ocmulgee State Park in McRae, Georgia for the quarterly CO-AGE advocacy training meeting. CO-AGE (Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly), headed by the Georgia Council on Aging, is comprised of a number of advocacy groups that organize around policies that will protect and promote the well-being of the aging in Georgia.

After driving lengthy stretches of country highway without passing a single Kroger for hours, Shyria and I began to wonder if we hadn't driven two hours too long in the wrong direction. Luckily, we made it to the venue just in time for Shryia to lead a group discussion on the Parent Protection Act. The PPA is listed on CO-AGE's 2009 legislative priorities. While I had heard 9to5 staff speak about the importance of the legislation for working women in minimum wage jobs, the group discussion yesterday focused on its importance for working women and families taking care of elderly parents and grandparents.

Shryia spoke to the group about the evolution of thought behind the bill that led to the realization that the 24 hours a year of unpaid leave is needed not only for parents to be able to attend parent-teacher meetings or other mandatory school functions without jeopordizing their jobs, but also gives them time to take their elderly parent or grandparent to a scheduled doctor's appointment or medical procedure. Several people shared personal stories of dealing with their struggle to balance the role of parent and care-giver, and Shyria responded to questions about the bill regarding enforcement and employee accountability. By the end of the discussion, the group concluded that while 24 hours a year was not enough time to take care of these responsibilities, getting this this bill passed is a crucial step on the road to protecting a parent's right to put their family first.

No comments: