I just saw this notice and had to share. Anywhere a mother chooses to breastfeed is her child is appropriate, covered or not. Period.
Please call or write in your support for a sweet mama named Sarah who is in a homeless shelter struggling to get on her feet with her 3 month old baby boy, who is being forced to cover her baby while she breastfeeds or the shelter where she is staying has sternly warned her they will kick her out. The shelter is for women and children only, and she is being called immodest, rude and disruptive to the other residents. This shelter is run by Union Rescue Mission, a religious non-profit, so they have told her that the laws that allow her to breastfeed do not apply to them. Please write a letter or make a phone call to this Los Angeles shelter, named Hope Gardens. The phone number is: (213) 347-6300.
The majority of the children at Hope Gardens are formula fed and the small minority who choose to breastfeed are discouraged from doing so where other residents can see them. This ignorant approach discourages the vast majority from breastfeeding at all.
Please stand with this one lonely mother who is choosing to give her baby the best nutrition she can, despite being homeless. The rights that women of means have to nursing their children should also be the same rights that homeless women have!
Along with calling the phone number above, you can send your disgust for this belittling to the following staff members:
Jessica Brown-Mason, Director of Hope Gardens, email@example.com
Steve Borja, Chief Program Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Johnson, Vice President of Operations/COO, email@example.com
Rev. Andrew J. Bales, CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions about this information, please call Katie McCall, Mothering Advocate, Certified Professional Midwife, Lactation Educator and Bradley Instructor: 626-676-1363
What does California law have to say about breastfeeding?
Cal. Civil Code § 43.3 (1997) allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. (AB 157)
There is no mention of covered or not because it is entirely up to the mother.
Email or call Hope Gardens to support this mother if you can. And I believe “killing them with kindness” will work best in this situation, as no one wants this mother to get kicked out, so be sure to keep any comments about the benefits of breastfeeding and how covering shouldn’t be required peaceful and informative.
Due to the vast amount of calls to the URM, the administration has asked that supporters of breastfeeding cease from contacting them regarding this matter due to the proposed agreement offered to Sarah McBroom, the mother that was harassed on several occasions by staff for breastfeeding her infant son in the dining hall and threatened with removal from the shelter.
Agreement: URM agrees to allow the mother to stay at their shelter on the condition that Ms. McBroom sign an agreement releasing the URM from liability, that she will be transitioned out to another housing agency, and until she is transitioned that she to only breastfeed her child in her room or other future designated private area.
Proposal: I am sure that many would agree with me being very happy that Ms. McBroom has not been put out on the streets with her child, due to her choice to breastfeed. We claim that victory. Now, there is a chance for an even greater goal within our grasp. We have a chance to educate poor women about breastfeeding, and bring a non-profit that is highly influential to the poor woman of Los Angeles county, into compliance with the law. We, the breastfeeding community, have a duty to consider making a counter offer. We have nothing to loose and a great deal to gain in the attachment parenting family movement.
Background: The URM is arguably the most financially successful homeless shelters in the Greater Los Angeles area due to the money in donations it receives and the amount of clients it serves. They are the primary service facility in a county that has a budget of over 1.8 Billion. The the ratio of mothers that breastfeed at URM, Hope Gardens, and it’s other facilities is less then 5%. Over 90% of their clients are single mothers. 85% of their clients are black, 10% are Hispanic, and 5% are white.
Hope gardens is only one of URM’s facilities and is located in Sylmar, CA. They also operate several others shelters throughout Los Angeles county. Their policy for their business offices and shelters is that breastfeeding is only allowed in private designated areas.
California Right to Breastfeed in Public (1997) , Section 43.3 of the Civil Code states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.”
HR 2490 was signed into law on September 29, 1999. It stipulated that no government funds may be used to enforce any prohibition on women breastfeeding their children on property that utilizes Federal funding. The Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2000 specifically provides that “a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a federal building or on federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.”
URM is a 501c3 organization. This means that not only are they a non-profit, but they have tax exempt status. This places them not only under state mandates but Federal ones. Since the URM property receives Federal support, they could loose their tax exempt status for failure to comply with breastfeeding laws and would most assuredly force them to close their doors.
Ms. McBroom and another mother who would like to remain unnamed, were asked to discontinue breastfeeding in the facilities dining room. They were asked to discontinue breastfeeding because it violates URm’s modesty policy. These mothers were told that breastfeeding is something that must take place in private only, and even their request to cover and remain were denied.
The URM denies mothers the right to breastfeed in public areas. When a mother is caught breastfeeding outside her room, even covered, they are tossed out of the shelter, or fined monetary infractions for violating the organizations modesty policy. Many of these women are on welfare. In addition to their modest purse they are asked to pay program fees to fund their room and board in the amount of 25%. They are required to save the remaining 75% of their money by purchasing money orders which are kept by URM. Their savings does not collect interest and is the money that must be used to pay infractions.
Ms. McBroom is the only mother among more then 50 at Hope Gardens that exclusively breastfeeds her child at three months of age. The only other woman that breastfeeds at Hope Gardens, now substitutes with powdered infant formula because of URM’s mandatory daycare policy for all children three months of age and up.
The dining facility is the only place that clients are allowed to eat in. Their policy states that food is only allowed in this area. If a mother wants to eat, she must comply with their rules which include mandatory mealtimes. If a mother must leave this area to breastfeed she will miss out on that meal as the dining hall is locked at all other times during the day.
URM has a mandatory six month curriculum that mothers must participate in to continue to stay at the shelter. The curriculum consists of classes including parenting, health and fitness, religious classes, and Black Infant Health to name a few. These classes are 1-2 hours in length. Mothers are not allowed to have children present with them during these class times. When a child is three months of age the mother must begin attendance, and place her child in their daycare. If she refuses to put her child in day care or leaves the class to care for her child, including to breastfeed, she will not be given credit for that class.
URM’s curriculum discourages mothers to breastfeed. In the Black Infant Health class, clients are taught that breastfeeding is not an option for poor women because they will need to work or go to school and breastfeeding makes these things impossible. Further it is taught that breastfeeding creates unnecessary attachments between mother and child that are hard to break when the mother must put her child in daycare. They use formula company statistics that show that powdered infant formula is just as good as breastmilk, especially for mothers that must work.
Opinion: The foundation of our strength as nursing mothers not only lies within the common law of the land but has existed since our creation under the natural law of motherhood. The poor are frequently led to believe that giving less to our children somehow empowers us. This lie must be destroyed. The perfect venue to educate our future mothers on a massive scale is here at the URM. Not only can we help the poor clients of this shelter to know the truth about the benefits of breastfeeding, but the working poor who serve as staff at the URM are in great need of education also. It should be mandatory for all tax exempt organizations to be aware of breastfeeding rights.
Using legalese, URM lawyers have not only admitted they know they are doing wrong, they are also showing us they don’t care. In their offer to stop our protest, they acted like they would be subject to lawsuit. They said they will not kick out Ms. McBroom, but yet they are still “referring her out” which is political doublespeak.
The reason why breastfeeding rates are so low in this country for poor and minority women is because tax exempt organizations are not held accountable when they deny the natural rights of the poor. Because tax exempt organizations have such an immediate impact in poor communities their recognition and celebration of breastfeeding truths must be demanded by mothers everywhere. Their policies and conduct should not only allow breastfeeding but encourage it. URM’s policies are to discourage mother’s from breastfeeding, and it is making an impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The health of the children of URM is a sorry state. Many of the children have asthma and juvenile diabetes, and are often ill. If we do not face this issue here, where it can make the biggest impact for change, mother’s will face a national health epidemic within one generation. Due to the lack of legal and moral stability of the offer by the URM, they have revealed their ignorance and verifiability.
Counteroffer: URM take out a full page ad in the Los Angeles Times which includes a public apology to Ms. Sarah McBroom and all breastfeeding mothers, their new breastfeeding policy and the changes they are making to enforce it. In this statement they will publicly state the actions they will take to align themselves with the law and become a public promoter of breastfeeding. In order to be in compliance with both Federal and State Laws they must write a breastfeeding policy that allows nursing mothers to breastfeed at any location in their shelters and business offices where a mother a child are lawfully allowed to be. They must have their staff enroll in breastfeeding education classes and enforce disciplinary measures of staff that harass breastfeeding mothers. Their modesty policy must must be changed state that breastfeeding a child in public does not violate the modesty clause. They must change their curriculum of discouraging breastfeeding to one of encouragement and support of mothers who breastfeed.
Conclusion: The most positive change women can claim is if breastfeeding truths reach the uneducated, poor population. Let the phone calls and emails continue.
6/13/2012 via Erica Michelle Henderson ”There is no win yet. She did not agree to keep her breastfeeding private and was attacked on four occasions. She left the shelter because of the pressure to conform to the shelters unlawful policy. The organization is claiming all of this is their right as breastfeeding in public violates their modesty policy. The win will come when URM pays damages and corrects their immoral, unlawful behavior.”