Sarah Francis: Moms need paid family and medical leave insurance

Testimony of Sarah Francis, Campaign Director, MomsRising

Washington House Committee on Labor & Workforce Development Hearing on House Bill 1457 Implementing Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Feb. 5, 2013


Good morning. My name is Sarah Francis and I’m a campaign director for MomsRising. On behalf of our thousands of Washington state members I would like to urge you to protect Washington’s Family Medical Leave Insurance law.

Since 2006, MomsRising has been working to bring together millions of people who share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America. Access to paid family leave is key to that goal.

Recently we asked our members to share with us how having – or NOT having – access to paid family leave impacted their lives. Their stories are powerful examples of why we not only need this law but must move forward to make sure all Washingtonians have access to PAID family leave to care for themselves, a new child or a family member.

Astacia from Puyallup wrote:  Unpaid maternity leave is a stressful time. We saved but we could not have anticipated that our daughter would be in the NICU for two weeks. Our savings were eaten up by the time she came home. After that, we fretted over every trip to the store for basic household needs because I was on unpaid leave.

Heidi shared: I took three weeks off after Caesarian surgery when I gave birth to my son. Would I have liked more time to recover? Yes. Did I need more time with my newborn son who was suffering from jaundice and who was born a month early? Yes. That wasn’t an option. I was lucky to be able to have a job waiting for me thanks to the FMLA, but I couldn’t afford more than three weeks, especially with the hospital bills waiting to be paid.

These are just two of the many  stories our members shared with us. The fact is that Paid family leave after the birth of a child helps give kids a healthy start in life and gives families the economic security they need to stay out of poverty.

And still, while 177 other countries have some form of paid leave for new moms after the birth of a child, the U.S. isn’t one of them, an omission that sets up our families for failure.

Washington can and must do better for the sake of our children and for our state.

Thank you.

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