WRC’s policy advocacy work targets issues that significantly impact the women we serve in order to shape government policies that will improve the economic well-being and health of all women in our region. Our key objective is to remove systemic barriers, as well as close inequality gaps so that women can reach their full potential.

We seek to ensure the voice of our clients is represented in the legislative process during both policy creation and implementation. And we serve as a connector to help convene and mobilize community partners around a shared vision of equitable prosperity.

Policy Priorities

Through WRC’s direct client services in resource advising, career planning, financial stability, mental health counseling, and more, we regularly see the challenges faced by women and their families. Often public policy modifications can address and mitigate these obstacles, so we believe our role is to shine a spotlight on these opportunities for positive change.

Key issues we are monitoring and advocating for include the following:

  • Benefits Cliff Mitigation
  • Affordable Housing
  • Equal Pay
  • Quality Childcare
  • Digital Access
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Access to Mental Health Services

Benefits Cliff Mitigation

Benefits cliffs occur when a marginal increase in income results in a loss of public benefits. When lost benefits outpace a wage increase, many families fall off the financial edge, stalling progression in their jobs and careers. The current Florida benefit system does not provide for a gradual transition off public programs as workers earn more money. This causes many people to be economically worse off once they complete a credential and/or enter higher-paying jobs, thus producing the unintended consequence of disincentivizing work.

WRC has played a vital role in getting Florida Senate Bill (SB 414) passed in 2021, which calls for the first step in analyzing and aligning benefit programs to create a more gradual off-ramp for those receiving support.

Affordable Housing

Given that the pandemic amplified the local affordable housing crisis, WRC has mobilized a coalition of nonprofit, philanthropic, and employer partners to advocate for more government intervention in increasing the regional supply of affordable housing units available for rent or purchase. At the beginning of 2022, this cross-sector partnership helped encourage the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners to allocate $25 million of its$84 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds specifically for affordable housing.

WRC continues to work with a variety of partners in the region to find solutions to address this critical need in our community, including advocating for the alignment of public-private partnerships and the full utilization of the state’s Sadowski Trust Fund.

Equal Pay

Women working full-time in the U.S. are still paid just 83 cents to every dollar earned by men, according to research from the American Association of University Women, with the gap even wider for women of color. One factor that contributes to the ongoing wage discrepancy is gender discrimination.

WRC advocates for legislative protections for women to receive equal pay. This includes supporting the proposed Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act which prohibits wage rate discrimination based on gender. The legislation also says that employers cannot retaliate or discriminate against employees if they disclose their own wages or ask about another employee’s wages.

Quality Childcare 

According to the Florida Policy Institute, the cost of child care in Florida is 40% higher than the cost of college, based on the average State University System tuition and fees. The rising costs and decline in available options have led to a decrease in women’s labor force participation rates, with the New York Times reporting that 1.6 million fewer mothers of children ages 5–17 were in the labor force as of September 2020.

WRC supports increased access to childcare benefits and high-quality Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programs for working families in our region. We also advocate for a needs-based School Readiness Funding Formula provide a proportional allocation of funding across the state to increase regional labor force participation rates through equitable access to childcare.

Digital Access

According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, ‘digital inclusion’ refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use information and communication technologies. Digital access is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.

Achieving digital equity in our bi-county area requires intentional strategies and investments to identify and eliminate historical and structural barriers to access for underserved residents. WRC continues to offer Digital Navigation services, and partners with organizations such as The Patterson Foundation to advocate at the local, state, and federal levels for policy changes that address the digital divide in our community.

Reproductive Rights

Aligning with Florida’s guaranteed constitutional right to privacy, WRC believes that a woman can make informed choices about her reproductive health driven by her own personal, moral, and religious beliefs and that such personal decisions should be made without government interference. Abolishing this freedom will endanger the health, education, employment, and quality of life of all women and their families.

WRC further asserts its unwavering support for an individual’s fundamental right to full and complete access to reproductive health services and the role this freedom plays in a woman’s empowerment, economic equity, and security. WRC will continue to support women on their path to living a successful life rooted in financial stability and a strong sense of self.

Access to Mental Health Services

As a provider of affordable mental health counseling, WRC is committed to supporting women’s mental health and overall well-being. Research shows that one in five women in the U.S. will develop a major depressive disorder in their lifetime.

WRC is dedicated to addressing the needs of women by supporting legislation and policies that provide for equitable access to services targeting prevention, early identification, and intervention. We partner with other mental health organizations and alliances to advocate for systems and funding streams that address these areas and improve the infrastructure of mental health care in our region.

Support Policy Changes

We envision a region where all women and families thrive. To achieve this vision, we must work tirelessly to advocate for and champion the major issues that are central to the lives of women.

To learn more about our advocacy work, or to get involved, please contact our office at:

  • Phone: (941) 256-9721
  • Email: info@mywrc.org

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