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It’s Time: What You Need to Know and What You Can Do to Make Paid Family Leave a Reality

As we mark the 25th anniversary of FMLA this year, it is truly a historic time for working families. Never before has prioritizing paid family leave reached such a fevered pitch.

By Whitney Pesek, Senior Policy Analyst

In 1993, Edward Zigler, ZERO TO THREE Emeritus Board Member, helped to bring the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to fruition. Groundbreaking at the time, the FMLA guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave to specific American workers. Almost 20 years later, though, when Dr. Zigler worked with Susan Muenchow and Christopher Ruhm to write Time Off With Baby, he and his colleagues made the case for paid family leave. The years of research on the benefits of paid leave for babies, families, and communities is indisputable. Relationships with primary caregivers literally shape the architecture of a baby’s brain in the fast and foundational first days and weeks of life. But the stress of missing a paycheck can contaminate the environment that nurtures healthy interactions.

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