Paid Leave for All Families: It’s Personal
By: Ayah Mouhktar
I grew up as the third of four children to a single mother who was forced to work day and night to support us. Quality time with my mom was a goodbye kiss as she rushed through the door every morning and a late dinner with her before she put us to bed. Her jobs did not offer her paid leave, so my older siblings and other family members had to help her pick up the slack when it came to raising me. The moments I shared with my mom are near and dear to my heart, but now I have learned that if my mother had had guaranteed paid time off when I was born, I would have established an even deeper bond with her.
My story, unfortunately, is not unique. And the importance of that bonding time is now much better understood. But despite the overwhelming research that guaranteed paid leave to care for children is critical for their long-term healthy upbringing, most Americans are not offered it. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that only 14 percent of the workforce has access to paid family leave through their employer. Common Sense Kids Action supports state and federal policy changes to ensure paid leave for all American workers. Last year, thanks to your help, we won in New York.
U.S. Sen. Gillibrand (D–N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. DeLauro (D–Conn.) have just reintroduced their bill, called the FAMILY Act, to guarantee all U.S. workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child, or a seriously ill family member. With guaranteed paid leave, fewer children will grow up like I had to, forced to sacrifice critical time with a parent because she had to choose between putting food on the table or being with her children. Paid family leave improves the physical and emotional health of children, encourages fathers to play a bigger role in their children’s upbringing, reduces stress in the family, and creates more stability and fairness in the workforce.
We’re working hard to ensure all children have the opportunity to get the right start in life, and the FAMILY Act is a critical part of that effort. You can make a difference.