Chanel Clark hugs her son, Thane, on Jan. 11, 2022, near her home in Verona, Wis. Clark supports paid family leave, which would have allowed her to spend more time with her son when he was born in 2013. (Angela Major / WPR) Angela Major / WPR
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Parental dilemmas; diversifying Wisconsin; ‘too many prisons’; refugee challenges; pandemic-era policing 

Of note: This week we highlight Wisconsin Watch’s collaboration with WPR that explores the toll that a lack of paid family leave takes on parents and Wisconsin’s economy. The absence of this benefit prompts many women to sacrifice crucial time with their newborns by returning to work soon after the birth — or to quit working altogether, exacerbating the state’s labor shortage. WPR’s Jenny Peek found that Wisconsin and the rest of the country are out of step with most major industrialized nations in providing paid leave for new parents. Measures to provide even self-funded paid leave have failed to gain traction in the Wisconsin Legislature, Peek reports. 

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Chanel Clark hugs her son, Thane, on Jan. 11, 2022, near her home in Verona, Wis. Clark supports paid family leave, which would have allowed her to spend more time with her son when he was born in 2013. Angela Major / WPR

‘It doesn’t have to be this way’: How expanding paid leave could ease working parent woes, labor crunch

WPR/Wisconsin Watch — February 1, 2022

Chanel Clark returned to work six weeks after delivering her son Thane in 2013. The Madison child care provider had coached parents on such transitions yet struggled to navigate her own journey as a new working parent. Repeated sobbing marked her first day back at work at Little Chicks Learning Academy — a highly rated day care that she couldn’t afford for her own child. Despite not feeling ready, Clark had no choice but to return to work. She wasn’t paid while on leave. Her family burned through savings and leaned heavily on credit cards during the time off. Such are the excruciating choices new parents face across Wisconsin and the country. Expanding paid leave benefits could ease parental pain, improve the health of infants and deliver long term benefits for employers, a growing body of research shows.

Related: How a Milwaukee nonprofit puts working mothers first — for clients and staff

‘I feel like I’m dreaming’: Afghan refugees embark upon new lives in Wisconsin

PBS Wisconsin — January 31, 2022

Images of crowds of people outside the Kabul airport, waiting on tarmacs, and being packed into military planes saturated screens around the world as the U.S. evacuated people out of Afghanistan in August 2021 and the Taliban seized power. The emergency evacuation airlifted more than 120,000 people and brought thousands to Fort McCoy near Tomah. Less than half a year later, hundreds of families are settling in, calling Wisconsin their new permanent home. But there is still an uphill climb to find housing, navigate the immigration system, and sort through the trauma of leaving their home in  Taliban hands.

‘I built too many prisons’: Tommy Thompson, UW System want more inmates to get degrees

Wisconsin State Journal — February 1, 2022

Tommy Thompson’s idea to “turn a prison into a university” is starting to take shape. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. last year awarded the University of Wisconsin System and the Department of Corrections a $5.7 million grant to expand college pathways for inmates, boosting a project that Republicans declined to fund in the state budget last summer. Thompson, the former four-term Republican governor, oversaw the largest prison system expansion in the state’s history. But he said he’s had a change of heart in his approach to criminal justice. “I built too many prisons,” the current UW System interim president told several of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ cabinet secretaries Monday during a discussion about the project. “I think we need to be much more interested in rehabilitation.”

Long Vue, center, collaborates with Claire Holzschuh, left, a public health educator with the Menasha Health Department, and Susana Guerra, right, a volunteer with Casa Hispana, to assist residents registering at a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Menasha, Wis. Vue moved to northeastern Wisconsin in 1980. He says the racism he faced back then resurfaced after former President Donald Trump began using the term “China virus” to describe the virus that causes COVID-19. Dan Powers / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

‘Home is here’: Northeast Wisconsin’s surge in diversity forged by opportunity, grit and inclusion

USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin — February 2, 2022

Long Vue remembers eggs being splattered over his parents’ car after he and his family arrived in Kaukauna in 1980. He recalls the shouts from white residents telling them to go back to their homeland. Vue’s family fled Laos after his father and uncle were active in protecting communication towers used to direct U.S. planes dropping bombs on North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. After 42 years in the Fox Valley, he said the eggs returned with renewed fury. President Donald Trump’s repeated use of the term “China virus” for the coronavirus fueled a rise of Asian American and Pacific Islander hate. Such stories smolder behind the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data, which show that Black, Asian, Native American and Hispanic residents accounted for three-fourths of the population growth in Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago counties in the past decade.

In Wisconsin, COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the line of duty for police officers and firefighters

Appleton Post-Crescent — January 31, 2022

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the coronavirus has been cited in more line-of-duty deaths among police officers and firefighters in Wisconsin than any other cause. By the end of 2021, at least five police officers and 10 firefighters in the state had died of COVID-19 in the line of duty, according to their employers. Those left behind continue to face challenges every day. Many have been sick themselves, unable to avoid the virus at a job that requires frequent face-to-face contact with the public. A report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found at least 301 police officers across the country died of COVID-19 in 2021, making the virus by far the leading cause of death for police last year.

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