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Trump talks about paid leave in the State of the Union—and this is how it affects you, mama

Here's what you need to know about President Trump's speech.

Trump talks about paid leave in the State of the Union—and this is how it affects you, mama

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address this week, joined by 11 special guests from across America, including three mothers. The President invited these mothers to witness this historic moment because he believes his domestic policies and trade negotiations are helping working families and that American mothers can look forward to a future that includes paid family leave and improved health care access.

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Trump spoke about how America has become stronger under his administration. "American's fortunes are on the rise and America's future is blazing bright. The years of economic decay are over," he said.

"Our borders are secure, our families are flourishing, our values are renewed, our pride is restored. And for all of these reasons, I say to the people of our great country and to the members of Congress: the state of our union is stronger than ever before," the President stated.

"Our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most importantly, pro-American." he said to applause.

Here's what you need to know about President Trump's State of the Union address:

What he said about health care

"A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality health system on Earth," Trump stated, pledging to "always protect patients with preexisting conditions."

Criticism of Trump's address was swift, with Democrats suggesting the President has yet to produce the "phenomenal" health care plan promised last year. Critics point instead to cuts to Medicaid and a lawsuit aiming to overturn the Affordable Care Act as proof that the Trump administration is failing the American public, as the Affordable Care Act includes protections for pre-existing conditions.

"The American patient should never be blindsided by medical bills. That is why I signed an executive order requiring price transparency," the President stated.

He went on to say that requiring price transparency "will save families massive amounts of money for substantially better care, but as we work to improve American's health care, there are those who want to take away your health care, take away your doctor, and abolish private insurance entirely." The statement is a reference to the Democratic presidential candidates who are calling for Medicare for All (or all who want it) or to build on the existing Affordable Care Act.

"My administration is also taking on the big pharmaceutical companies. We have approved a record number of affordable generic drugs, and medicines are being approved by the FDA at a faster clip than ever before," Trump said.

He went on to ask "Congress to provide an additional $50 billion to fund neonatal research for America's youngest patients" and also asked Congress to "pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion" (according to the CDC, 91% of abortions in America happen at or before 13 weeks gestation).

What he said about paid leave

President Trump stated that he was "proud to sign the new law offering parents in the [federal] workforce paid family leave, serving as a model for the rest of the country."

As Motherly previously reported, as of October 2020, federal employees of all genders who have worked for the government at least a year will be able to take 12 weeks paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. About 2 million people who work for the federal government will soon have access to paid leave, but there are more than 157 million Americans working across the nation so millions still don't.

Some paid leave advocates quickly objected to what they see as Trump taking credit for progress on paid leave without offering a comprehensive national paid leave plan. During the State of the Union Trump called on "Congress to pass the bipartisan Advancing Support for Working Families Act" which would give families the option of accessing an advance of up to $5,000 of their future child tax credit. Workers would be able to access this even if they didn't take the time off work, and low-income parents who do not qualify for the child tax credit would be eligible for a 100% wage replacement for 12 weeks.

Critics of this plan suggest it doesn't go far enough, and the Democratic presidential candidates are pushing for other plans including the FAMILY Act, which would see a payroll deduction of an estimated 2 cents per $10 earned, and when a worker has a baby or needs to take time off to care for a family member, they'd be able to collect 66% of their wages for 12 weeks.

What he said about school choice + education

"For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools," Trump stated in a section of his speech dedicated to school choice.

Trump is calling on Congress to "pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act," which would create a tax break for private school scholarships by "establish[ing] tax credits to encourage individual and corporate taxpayers to contribute to scholarships for elementary and secondary students through eligible scholarship-granting organizations."

He is also asking Congress to "back my plan to offer vocational and technical education in every single high school in America."

"I've also overseen historic funding increases for high-quality child care, enabling 17 states to help more children, many of which have reduced or eliminated their wait lists altogether. I set Congress a plan to expand access to high-quality child care and urge you to act immediately," he said (referring, in part, to Child Care Development Block Grants.)

However, as Motherly has previously reported, for many families in America child care remains unaffordable under the Trump administration. Politifact fact-checked the President's statement and rates it as "half true", noting that it asked the White House for evidence on the claims about child care made during the State of the Union but has yet to receive a response.

While Congress did approve a historic increase of $2.37 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant in 2018, the President actually proposed cutting the program by $95 million before eventually signing the increase into law. It is difficult for fact-checkers to confirm President Trump's claim that waitlists have been reduced or eliminated due to a lack of publicly available data.

What he said about the economy

"This is a blue-collar boom," Trump stated, telling America that "real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded.'

Trump pointed to a low unemployment rate (a trend that Politico points out began under the previous administration): "The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century. And very incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than in any administration in the history of our country," Trump said.

CNN reports that "the average overall unemployment rate for Trump's presidency is the lowest under any president at least since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, but the New York Times' fact-checkers concluded President Trump's statement that the "economy is the best it has ever been" is not accurate because wage growth and the growth rate of the economy have been better, most recently under the Bush administration.

Trump is promising economic prosperity for blue-collar families in the future. "The people are the heart of our country. Their dreams are the soul of our country. And their love is what powers and sustains our country. We must always remember that our job is to put America first."

What is next

Tonight's speech comes less than than 24 hours before the Senate is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump and 272 days before America decides who its next leader will be.

[This post was originally published on February 4, 2020. It has been updated.]

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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