LOUISVILLE – Is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serious about its commitment to have young adults participate in leadership at top levels of the denomination? If so, are its policies for paying for child care for those attending meetings sufficient?
That question bubbled to the surface this week at the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board meeting in Louisville. Melissa DeRosia, a young pastor from Rochester, N.Y. who serves on that board, also is being asked to serve as a liaison from the board’s Justice Committee to the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA). That means more meetings – and, for DeRosia, who has two young daughters, the need to pay for more child care.
During a meeting of the Justice Committee Sept. 12, DeRosia raised questions about the child care policy. Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, said that for those who qualify, the policy provides $30 a day in coverage for each dependent, with a cap of $2,000 per year.
Some members of the Justice Committee said that policy seems to conflict with the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s stated goal of wanting to involve more youth and young adults in leadership.
“Every time I ask someone who is my age or younger to be involved it’s a no,” because they can’t take time off work or pay for child care, said Noelle Royer, a young adult who is chair of the Justice Committee.
“If we want young adults to participate, this is a barrier,” DeRosia said. To remove that barrier by paying for child care “is going to cost money.”
Justice Committee member Hal Johnson said the need may not just be with parents of young children. When his elderly mother lived with him and he had to travel for church business, “I also had to arrange for her to be taken care of while we were gone,” Johnson said. “I’m curious if there is any willingness to also include caretakers of the elderly” in the PC(USA) policy.
On Sept. 14, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board voted to appoint a task force to review the current dependent care policy, instructing it to report back in April 2013. It also voted to waive the $2,000 annual dependent care cap for DeRosia, to make it easier for her to serve as the liaison to PHEWA.