During a conference call among several coalitions and breastfeeding advocates in the state last month, there was a mention of a project by HHS Office on Women’s Health, who were offering members an opportunity to assist in a project designed to gather information on companies who have successfully adhered to the federal break time for nursing mother’s law and have established an area for lactating mothers, in order to input this into a national database. I was interested!
The focus of this initiative is to gather information and input it in a database to show other companies across the country how they can be successful, even facing barriers. Here is an excerpt from the Orientation Packet:
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, with support from the HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH), launched a major national initiative designed to improve worksite support for beastfeeding women. This initiative included a resource kit, The Business Case for Breastfeeding, which focuses on encouraging employers to establish, maintain, and expand programs to enable their breastfeeding employees to continue breastfeeding their infants after they return to work…. In October 2011 OWH began a national initiative that focuses on employers of hourly workers, particularly in non-traditional, non-office settings that are often challenging and may require more creative solutions to comply with the law — A central goal of this initiative is to develop a national online searchable database of many types of varied worksites that comply with the law, to serve as examples or models for other worksites.
We (BCW Manager and I) submitted our proposal for the project and were one of four coalitions in the country selected, which includes a small grant in order to complete the project.
The steps involved require me to contact businesses throughout the state to begin the screening process, providing some background information on the project, and making sure they qualify — meaning ensuring they already have an established environment for nursing mothers of course, and at least 30% of staff members are hourly-paid. There are a few more screening questions, but the overall goal will be to visit the company, interview the manager or other Human Resources personnel, as well as someone who is currently using, or who has previously utilized the lactation station, take a few photographs and input this information into a database. I must visit at least ten (10) businesses.
I am very excited about this for several reasons. Aside from it being my first “official” project and being able to advocate mother’s milk, it allows me to begin exploring and examining those areas I feel need most representation — those areas that contain people who are often in the shadows, which is nice because this is exactly where this project encourages me to look.