Paid Leave Talking Points

The Problem

 

  • The United States is the only country in the world other than Papua New Guinea without a federal paid family leave policy. 1 in 4 women go back to work just 10 days after giving birth and only 19% of American workers have access to paid leave. 

 

  • The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave, but only 60% of private-sector workers are eligible - those who work full-time for at least one year for a company with at least 50 staff members — are eligible for unpaid leave. 

 

  • More than three-quarters of people who use FMLA do so not for the arrival of a new child, but for sickness – either their own or to care for a family member. Many recent paid leave proposals do not cover sickness leave and therefore leave out the majority of people who use FMLA.
     

  • Millions of Americans are not able to care for dying family members, care for their newborns, or care for themselves when they are sick. We are facing a care crisis in our country. 


 

The Impact - A Public Health and Economic Crisis

 

  • 26 weeks of paid leave is recommended for optimal maternal health and well-being. 52 weeks of paid leave is recommended for optimal infant health and well-being. 

 

  • American women face the same risk of maternal death as women in Romania and Iran, and babies born in the U.S. are twice as likely to die on their first day of life than babies born in the European Union. The U.S. ranks consistently high for premature birth rates, a contributory factor in many first-day deaths and closely linked to poor healthcare, poverty, and stress. 

 

  • Pregnancy is always stressful, but many U.S. women work until they actually go into labor, desperate to save what little paid sick or vacation leave they may have for the first few days of their child’s life. Many also skip prenatal appointments, because of the lack of leave. Paid parental leave can reduce infant mortality by as much as 10%.

 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by extended breastfeeding for at least one year. Without paid family leave, mothers are not able to establish their milk supply and many are forced to switch to formula. States that have implemented paid leave policies have seen an increase in breastfeeding rates.

 

  • Each year working families in the U.S. lose out on at least $20.6 billion in lost wages due to the lack of access to paid family and medical leave. Parents without paid family put off paying bills and draw down on their savings.

 

  • Women with access to paid family leave are 39% less likely to receive public assistance, and 40% less likely to receive food stamps in the year following a child’s birth than those who cannot or do not take leave.
     

  • A woman’s earnings decrease by 4% for every child she has, while a man’s earnings increase 6%. Paid leave keeps women connected to the workforce and helps close the gender gap. 

 

  • If our country had similar female labor force participation rates to countries such as Germany and Canada - countries with family-friendly policies such as quality affordable childcare and paid family leave, we would add more than 5 million more women to our workforce, which would translate to more than $500 billion of additional economic activity each year.

 

The Solution

 

  • Eight U.S states and the District of Columbia have introduced paid family leave policies. California, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island have already implemented them, and programs in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington are currently being implemented and will begin paying benefits to workers between 2020 and 2023.
     

  • 84% of Americans support a comprehensive paid family leave: 94%  of Democrats, 83% of Independents, and 74% of Republicans. 

 

  • A number of paid leave bills have been introduced, but none come close to what is needed. The proposed Family and Medical Leave Act would provide 12 weeks of paid leave at 66% with a maximum of $4,000 per month funded by both employer and employee contributions. There are a number of Repubican proposals that allow parents time off in exchange for delaying their retirement, which only depletes social security.
     

  • Paid leave is not only good for families, but good for businesses. It reduces turnover and increases employee retention and morale, which is why 7 in 10 small businesses support paid family leave. 


Families need six months of paid leave with full wage replacement. This must include parental, caregiving, and medical leave for all workers.

Childcare Talking Points

Accessibility

 

  • More than half of Americans live in childcare deserts, ranging from 23% in Maine to 77% in Utah. A ratio of more than three young children for every licensed child care slot constitutes a childcare desert. In a recent poll among parents with a child under age 5, 83% reported that finding quality, affordable child care was a serious problem in their area.
     

  • In NYC childcare centers have the capacity for only 6% of infants citywide. Licensed home-based providers can only accommodate another 16%.
     

  • Both the number of family childcare providers and the number of providers who accept childcare subsidies is decreasing nationwide. The number of family childcare providers has been decreasing, because of high operation costs, small profit margins, low wages, and recruitment problems, but there is little evidence suggesting that regulations have contributed to the decline in childcare.

 

Affordability

 

 

  • Fees for two children in childcare are higher than the average annual rent in every state, and the annual cost of center-based care for an infant is more than families spend on food each year. Single parents in our country can spend between 27% to 91% of their income on childcare. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) argues that childcare is only affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family’s income. 

 

Economic Impact

 

  • The United States is losing $57 billion each year in lost earnings, productivity and revenue because of the lack of childcare. Businesses rely on employees and employees rely on childcare. 86% of primary caregivers have said that problems with childcare hurt their efforts or time commitment at work.
     

  • When parents have trouble finding affordable reliable childcare they may miss work, take pay cuts, or leave their jobs. Americans companies are losing an estimated $12.7 billion each year because of our nation’s childcare crisis. 

 

Quality

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that there should be one childcare provider to three children - age 6 months to 1.5 years, however only ⅓ of centers across the country meet this standard. In fact, even high quality centers in New York City that charge nearly $3,000 per month, provide a staff to child ratio of one to four for infants – age 6 weeks to one year, and one to five for children over one year.
     

  • Not all childcare programs are required to have a license.  Laws vary widely state by state and as a result the safety and availability of childcare is variable. There are at least fourteen states that exempt religious institutions with daycare centers from licensing rules. Indiana is one of them. In a four-year period Indiana saw the death of 31 children in childcare centers. 21 occurred at unlicensed or illegal day care centers.
     

  • Programs can choose to become accredited by showing they meet certain requirements above state licensing requirements. Accreditation is voluntary and not mandated by law.
     

  • 97% of military childcare centers have been independently accredited, versus just 10% of civilian centers and 1% of family childcare centers nationally. In 1989 the Military Child Care Act established strict childcare standards for all military programs that greatly exceed requirements for civilian childcare.
     

  • In fiscal year 2015, the government spent approximately $700 million on military childcare and after-school programs. In comparison, Mississippi spent just $2 million for childcare.  We need to make sure that all American children have access to affordable quality care.

 

Solutions

 

  • The childcare market does not work. The cost to supply quality early care is more than families are able to pay, which is why the government must significantly invest in childcare in a similar manner to how it subsidizes the K-12 public education system.

 

  • Our annual military budget is approximately $700 billion per year. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Universal Childcare proposal would cost $70 billion per year. If our childcare spending was just 10% of our annual military spending, we could provide quality care for 12 million American babies.
     

Under Warren’s plan the federal government will partner will local providers to create a network of childcare option that would allow us to provide free care for families earning less than two times the poverty level ($50,000 for a family of four), ensure that no family spends more than 7% of their income on care, and pay childcare workers at the same rate as public school teachers.

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