Babies and parents need time together. This time supports important bonding that is crucial to healthy development. Weak or insecure attachment has many ramifications, such as predicting high school dropout rates with 77% accuracy.
Yet under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), only 8 percent of mothers in the United States who give birth or adopt children and no statistically significant percentage of fathers are eligible to receive unpaid family leave.
An example of the stresses children and families experience with early entry into out-of-home care.
What We Know
- According to the Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies, the U.S. ranks 134th out of 164 countries in terms of guaranteed maternity and parental leave policies.
- To qualify for FMLA (non-paid) leave, parents must have at least one year of job tenure with their current employer. In addition, leave is limited to workers whose employers have at least 50 workers within 75 miles of the work location. FMLA leave covers both birth and adoptive parents, but if both parents work for the same employer, their total time allotment is limited to 12 weeks.
- Breast feeding is often halted as mothers move back into the work force early in the life of their child because of lack of paid leave. Compared to breastfed infants, formula-fed infants cost the healthcare system more money in their first-year of life due to their increased rate of illness and hospitalization. This costs the managed care system between $331 and $475 per each non-breastfed infant.
- Berger et al. (2005) found that mothers who return to work early (within the first 12 weeks after giving birth) are 2.4% points less likely to take their babies for any well baby care in the first year of life and their babies receive 0.20 fewer visits on average. Reference: Berger, L. M., Hill, J., & Waldfogel, J. (2005). Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child health and development in the US. The Economic Journal, 115, F29–F47.
Hear about the complexities of paid family leave from parents and experts.