Friday, March 4, 2016

What if you were born tomorrow-with no paid family leave?

What if you were born tomorrow?


Think about this: If you were born tomorrow, what are your chances of growing up healthy in a wealthy family?

Well, let me tell you. You have a 25% chance to be born in a family living in poverty and a 0.6% chance to die before turning one year old.

No, I am not presuming that you were born in a developing or an undeveloped country. I am saying if you were born tomorrow here in America, an industrialized country.

This is how. If you were born tomorrow in America, chances are both your mom and dad work. Women are now half of the entire paid labor force and moms are co or primary breadwinners in three quarters of all American families.

And your mom and dad probably have no access to paid family leave. Currently only 13% of American have access to paid family leave. Because of the lack of paid leave, your employed mom would have to go back to work only two weeks after your birth just like the 25% of all working moms.

And because both of your parents are back to work, your mom and dad have to arrange child care for you. The pay loss that happened when your mom took unpaid leave after your birth is now coupled with the sky-high cost of child care, setting your family back financially for years to come. For that very reason, one quarter of young American families are now living in poverty. That is why you have a 25% chance to grow up in a family living in poverty, should you born tomorrow here in America.

Oh, and you have a 0.6% chance to die before turning one year old because the U.S. infant mortality rate stays high at 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. There is a 25% decrease in infant mortality with paid leave, but no decrease at all with unpaid.

Now, this is why you would have a 25% chance to be born in a family living in poverty and a 0.6% chance to die before turning one year old. This is how the lack of paid family leave hurting American working family. While the U.S. rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births seem to be small, the number is a national embarrassment—it lags behind other wealthy nations on infant mortality.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became law 23 years ago just last month, but it is now outdated. Unlike the rest of the world’s family policies, FMLA only provides job-protected, unpaid leave for working people to welcome a new baby or take care of a family member with a serious illness. The 23-year-old policy only covers about half of the working people in the United States, and, again, it’s unpaid.

The country’s public policies haven’t caught up the modern labor force. We are the only industrialized nation in the world without some form of paid leave. While the FMLA is an important law that has helped many working people, it leaves far too many people out. It falls short of what working families in the United States in several ways: Only about half of working families in the United States are eligible to take FMLA and a significant portion of those who are eligible to take it, can’t afford to take it, because it’s unpaid.

Now think about this again: If you were born tomorrow here in America, what are your chances of growing up healthy in a wealthy family? If you want a better chance for yourself, for your children and your future, please join me today and tell the Congress to step up and update the outdated FMLA.

This is an original post to MomsRising by To-wen Tseng. Photo credit to To-wen Tseng.  

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