In ‘Workplace Policies for Parents,’ Montana gets a C-minus

When it comes to policies that support new parents in the workplace, Montana is just “meh” according to a new national report.

We’re not that great, but not so bad – unlike all the states surrounding Montana, which earned solid “F”s.

Montana has protections for workers (both state and private) who take medical leave, for nursing moms and … well, that’s about it.

Read on for the full breakdown:

Montana Earns Only a “C-” in New Study for its Workplace Policies that Support New Parents

In Advance of Monday’s White House Summit on Working Families, New State-by-State Analysis Reinforces Compelling Need for Congress to Act

A new state-by-state analysis shows how little the nation supports and protects working mothers and fathers when a new child arrives – and Montana has a long way to go when it comes to helping its new parents.

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Trend of more educated women having children later in life now being called a ‘delayer boom’

The U.S. Census Bureau continues to roll out statistical analyses, one of the latest concerning the rising number of women who are delaying their children until later in life. According to the Census Bureau, there’s a statistical link between a woman’s level of education and how many years she puts off childbirth – if she decides to have children at all.

The Census Bureau is calling it a “delayer boom.” In a nutshell, women with a college degree have children later, and have fewer children overall than other women.

The number-crunchers at the Bureau reached this conclusion after comparing the national Fertility Supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2000 and 2010.

Here’s how it breaks down:

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Certain politicians get thanks from moms for Mother’s Day

A group of about 20 moms and their kids – a stroller brigade – strolled along the street between Missoula’s Public Library and Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus’ Missoula offices earlier today.

Stroller brigadeHere’s why: They were showing their support for strong federal clean air protections, and wanted to thank the senators for their support of stronger Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The full news release on the event is available below.

But as they say: Wait, there’s more!

Montana Women Vote is also encouraging folks to thank their favorite state politicians now that the 2011 legislative session has come to a close.

“As this challenging Montana legislative session has come to an end, we can all be grateful to the brave and tireless legislators who stood and advocated for issues important to women and families,” says the notice sent out by Montana Women Vote.

The note includes a link to a Mother’s Day card you can print out, write on and send to an elected official of your choice. It reads, “Thank you from all the mothers, fathers, children and grandchildren for your hard work for the future of Montana. Your mama would be proud.”

The folks at Montana Women Vote, thorough people that they are, also include handy links to a complete list of Montana legislator addresses, and a list of other statewide elected officials’ addresses.

If one of your favorite state legislators happens to be Missoula Democrat Carol Williams, the first female Senate Majority Leader in Montana history, then you will be delighted with this coming Sunday’s guest column. It’s also about certain congressional delegates and the Clean Air Act.

But, dear readers, I won’t make you wait to read the opinion piece by Williams, a mother of three and grandmother of three. Here’s a special sneak peek for your reading pleasure, following the news release about the stroller brigade.

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Women’s Fair will offer plenty to interest parents

Hey, moms are women too – and the fourth annual Women’s Fair in Missoula promises to provide plenty of interest and fun for both.

This year’s fair – it’s happening tomorrow, people! – will also help raise awareness of some very important local nonprofits: Missoula Aging Services, The Girls Way, Dan Fox Foster Care and Adoption Programs, and Ronald McDonald House. Note that f three of the four organizations listed above directly help kids and their families.

Here are the details:

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LUNAFEST to include ‘Mother of Many,’ a movie about midwives

When the annual LUNAFEST comes to Missoula this year, it will, as it always does, bring a slate of short films “by, for and about women.” And among these films, as usual, is one of particular interest to moms and anyone interested in the birthing industry, specifically midwives: “Mother of Many.”

The festival begins in mid-March and will hold its showings at the Wilma Theatre. The first film will start at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.

Tickets cost $10 ($5 for students); buy them by calling 543-6691, and do so with the knowledge that ticket proceeds will help fund the YWCA‘s GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) leadership program for girls ages 11 to 18, as well as the national Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Here’s the full list of films, provided by the Missoula YWCA:

  • “The Translator,”directed by Sonya Di Rienzo (Toronto, Canada). A foreign film translator finds her story on a subway line.
  • “Getting a Grip,”directed by Rosa Maria Ruvalcaba and Sarah Jun (San Fernando, Calif., and New York, NY). Meet Fannie Barnes, who became the first female cable car operator in January 1998–at age 52.
  • “Touch,” directed by Jen McGowan (Venica, Calif.). Two women make an unusual connection while waiting for a train.
  • “Tightly Knit,” directed by Jenni Nelson (Palo Alto, Calif.). A new generation of yarn bombers and social knitters discover that the ties that bind are sometimes made of wool.
  • “Top Spin,” directed by Sara Newans and Mina T. Son (New York, NY, and Los Angeles, Calif.). With hard work and family sacrifice, a young table tennis champion works toward becoming one of the top players in the world.
  • “Thembi’s Diary,” directed by Jisoo Kim (Valencia, Calif.). Nineteen year old Thembi records an auto diary of her struggle living with AIDS.
  • “Mother of Many,” directed by Emma Lazen (Bristol, UK). The most dangerous journey sometimes needs a helping hand – a midwife.
  • “Irene,” directed by Lindsay Goodall (Glasgow, UK). Ninety-two-year-old Irene suffers from Alzheimer’s, but struggles to keep her independence.
  • “Miracle Lady,” directed by Moran Somer and Michal Abulafia (Jerusalem, Israel). A tale of two old women who spend their days waiting.
  • “Love on the Line,” directed by G. Melissa Graziano (Los Angeles, Calif.). Follow the dots and dashes when star-crossed lovers curbed their raging hormones via the quickest form of communication available: the telegraph.

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UM to host discussion on the plight of women and children in Haiti

This upcoming Wednesday, Save the Children executive vice president Carolyn Miles will be in town to lead a community discussion titled “Women and Children at Risk: Haiti and the Developing World.”

The discussion will be hosted by the World Affairs Council of Montana, which is asking for a $5 admission fee for members of the public; it’s free for students and World Affairs Council members.

According to the news release:

Miles, an established leader in the nonprofit sector and developing world, has traveled to more than 45 countries. Her visit to Missoula is part of a national outreach effort to increase awareness of the challenges faced by women and children in developing nations.

She will speak about the growing efforts to empower women, as well as Save the Children’s successful programs that address issues of basic health and education services for children around the world.

Miles also will discuss efforts being made to increase economic opportunities, HIV/OVC initiatives for children and communities, and emergency assistance during natural disasters, war and conflict.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake disaster. Miles will share impressions from her recent visit to the country and the level of progress toward improving conditions from the tragedy.

The event is part of the World Affairs Council of Montana’s Distinguished Speakers Program and is the 2011 Dirk and Kim Visser/Allegiance Benefit Plan Management Inc. lecture. It is co-sponsored by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM.

Show up at the University Center Ballroom at 7 p.m. with your $5 if you want to attend. For more information, visit the World Affairs Council website.

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It’s time to nominate a young lady to LEAD!

This coming Monday marks the deadline to turn in your nomination of a girl age 14 to 18 for the YWCA‘s Young Women LEAD Project.

“The YWCA Missoula is seeking school counselors, educators, parents, and community members to nominate fabulous young women to participate in a high-school girls’ leadership program. ”

Remember, there’s no cost – not to nominate, not to participate. All it takes is a willingness and interest on the part of the nominated girls to attend a series of two-hour seminars and get active in a community service project. Along the way, they’ll get to meet peers and role models right here in our community “while learning to find balance in life, self-care, goal-setting, and identifying their inner strengths and values,” according to the YWCA.

AND, they’ll have a change to go to the “Girls For A Change” conference in Bozeman this spring for free.

If you know a young lady who fits the bill, don’t wait any longer to nominate her! Forms are available on the YWCA’s website and at its Missoula Office, located at 1130 West Broadway. And if you need more information, call the YWCA’s GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) director Jen Euell at 543-6691 or shoot her an e-mail at

– MM

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Community Medical Center breaks ground on new Women’s and Newborn Center



If you happened to visit Community Medical Center yesterday, you would have noticed the giant poster of a baby hanging over the side of the building.

The poster was unfurled to help announce CMC’s groundbreaking of its long-awaited Women’s and Newborn Center, which will add 22,000 square feet to the hospitals’ existing obstetrics and newborn care unit. The construction is expected to take about a year to complete – during which time fundraising to pay for the $17.8 million wing will continue.

– MM

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Learn how to NOT stress out about the holidays

If it doesn’t add to your stress, here’s a last-minute item to add to today’s calendar: WORD, Inc. (Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development) in Missoula is holding a Women’s Sharing Network event tonight called “Simplify the Holidays.”

The potluck-style evening will include learning stress-reduction techniques such as controlled breathing, as well as how to make gifts out of household items (and the supplies are included!). And, of course, talk with other women about how to keep the holiday season manageable.

It takes place in the WORD community room, located at 2525 Palmer St. Ste #1. Childcare is provided, but you must RSVP a spot.

Call Thea at 543-3550 or shoot an e-mail to And do it right away, before you blink and the holidays are upon us!

– MM

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When you gotta go, you gotta go

Apparently I’m not the only person in western Montana obsessed with bathrooms. You see, as the mother of a wee child with a tiny bladder, I’ve found myself using more public and business bathrooms in the last five years than in all the rest of my life combined.

I’ve changed my daughter’s diapers on the grungy floors of bathrooms that didn’t offer a changing table. I’ve struggled to help my growing girl reach countless too-high sinks and towel dispensers suspended by malicious giants 8 feet up on the wall. And I’ve blessed businesses that have “family rooms” with a thousand mental cheers for allowing my husband to accompany our daughter to a toilet.

I’ve also asked many, many parents (maybe too many) how they navigate the mother-son, father-daughter bathroom thing, because when nature calls to a little kid, it doesn’t exactly whisper. But no matter how pressing the potty emergency, no parent of a young child wants to leave a defenseless kiddo alone in an enclosed but public place.

Their responses always fascinate me. Many dads, apparently, just cover their girls’ eyes and steer them into the men’s room. Some fathers opt for the ladies room, but check to make sure it’s empty first. Some, instead of going in themselves, ask random women to keep an eye on their daughters whilst they are in the privy.

And moms of sons? They seem to have fewer compunctions. The vast majority of women I’ve talked to (like, six people), said they just go to the ladies room with their boys, and nobody blinks an eye. It’s when their sons get a little older and want to use the men’s room that they run into problems.

But a far more common concern (in my experience) is that there is almost never a changing table in the men’s room. I guess the assumption is that men don’t change diapers.

Another complaint (again, in my experience) is that while handicap accessible toilets are now pretty common, bathroom sinks, soaps and towel dispensers are often out of reach of not only small children, but very short adults and people in wheelchairs.

Perhaps I need to start my own group and Web site to address these pressing issues. What do you think we should call it? 

– MM

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