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Alaska workplaces can apply for funding to make breastfeeding easier for employees and clients
Federal grants will provide one $15,000-dollar“privacy pod,” and 15 $1,000 awards for renovations to accommodate and support lactating mothers.

With funding from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the Section of Women’s Children’s Family Health (WCFH) within the state Division of Public Health, is offering financial incentives for Alaska workplaces to encourage them to initiate or expand workplace breastfeeding accommodation and support efforts.  

The Alaska Workplace Breastfeeding Support Project is now accepting applications from employers for 3 levels of sponsorships to help them offer breastfeeding and lactation support to employees:

•    Level 1: One Alaska employer will be granted a lactation pod from www.mamava.com, a portable, private space with seating, shelving, and electrical and USB ports, to allow mothers to breastfeed or pump as needed.
•    Level 2: 15 Alaska employers will be granted $1,000 each to fund breastfeeding accommodations and support activities, including renovations as needed.
•    Level 3: All applicants will receive technical assistance to develop workplace breastfeeding accommodation policy based on ACA FSLA requirements. Applicants may also only apply for technical assistance.

Breastfeeding is recognized as the best source of nutrition for most infants, and strategies to support breastfeeding mothers and babies are some of the most effective measures to protect and promote the health of all infants. But many workplaces lack facilities or policies to support breastfeeding mothers, and that is a persistent barrier for women to initiate and continue to exclusively breastfeed their babies.

In some cases, these employers are actually in violation of Federal law. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers with more than 50 employees to provide reasonable breaks for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the birth of the child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least the first 12 months of life.  While nearly all Alaskan babies are breastfed soon after birth, fewer than half are still breastfeeding at 6 months.  

“I was proud to breastfeed my own children, as my family has done for thousands of years. Breastfeeding fosters both bonding and health for breastfeeding mothers and their new babies,” said Valerie Davidson, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “Businesses and communities play an important role in supporting this new family bond, and this project will help employees and visitors reach their breastfeeding goals. We ask Alaska clinics, employers, businesses, schools, libraries, and churches to help us support safe spaces for breastfeeding mothers and families so that they get the encouragement they seek and deserve.”
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More information on Mamava Pods is available here: www.mamava.com/mamava-suite/

More information on the Affordable Care Act, and its impact on the Fair Labor Standards Act, is available here: www.usbreastfeeding.org/workplace-law

Details for Interested Applicants:
•    All Alaska workplaces are eligible to apply to participate in the Alaska Workplace Breastfeeding Support Project. Applicants must include proof of support from building/facilities management for placement of the lactation pod or other physical changes to their workplace.
•    The online application is available at: dhss.alaska.gov/dph/wcfh/Pages/default.aspx
•    The deadline to apply is: Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.
•    Successful applicants will be announced and informed by: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.

 

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