Policy Resource

5 Critical Needs for Babies in COVID-19: Boosting Economic Security

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Paid Sick Days and Paid Family and Medical Leave Boost Families’ Economic Security

The Investment:

  • Provide all U.S. workers with 14 emergency paid sick days in the event of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis
  • Provide all workers with 12 weeks of emergency paid family and medical leave
  • Permanently ensure workers can accrue 7 paid sick days
  • Permanently enact a paid family and medical leave insurance for all workers

Why is this need critical?

  • Critical for the hardest hit families: Many workers do not have access to paid family and medical leave or paid sick days or may rely on those days for other family needs. This crisis has shown us that our nation heavily depends on the work of the front-line staff at grocery stores, child care centers, health care facilities – many of whom lack access to comprehensive policies that would protect them in times of illness or crisis.
  • Critical for the economy to reopen: This pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for families and businesses alike. Ensuring economic security through permanent, federally ensured paid sick, family, and medical leave benefits for all workers will provide reciprocal stability for employers who will be better prepared to manage the diversity of personal challenges that workers may face.
  • Critical for a baby’s early development: For babies, every minute and every interaction is a lesson in how the world works, how individuals relate to one another, and how they are valued. Caring, consistent relationships experienced by young children can mitigate the impact of stress and help develop the foundations of a child’s ability to learn, to form positive relationships, and to exercise self-control.

Investment Details:

Congress should pass the PAID Leave Act to support families during this unprecedented time.
The PAID Leave Act addresses the many immediate needs of families caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also draws an important path to future. The implementation of a progressive paid family and medical leave strategy will create a framework that supports workers in the face of future crises, whether they be national or personal.

Autumn, from Conde, SD, shared this concern:
“I am working from home, though if I need to stay home with my young children, my ability to work is greatly diminished. I don’t have any paid time off at this time, because my children have appointments and illnesses too, so it would possibly be without pay. This would cripple our family’s finances, where we need both incomes just to survive. At this point, I have more anxiety about finances than I do about staying healthy and virus free.”

Paid leave is strongly associated with reduced infant and post-neonatal mortality rates. Researchers conservatively estimate that providing 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave in the U.S. would result in nearly 600 fewer infant and post-neonatal deaths per year. Studies also show that time for parents to provide care facilitates the early detection of potential delays at a time when problems can be most effectively addressed, and interventions identified to minimize them. Given the stressful conditions provided by the current pandemic, parental and child stress may be higher than normal. Providing paid time at home may help alleviate some of the stress that comes with the fear of not meeting basic needs like maintaining stable housing, putting nutritious food on the table, and consistently accessing diapers, wipes, and formula.

Paid leave policies like the PAID Leave Act can benefit employers, taxpayers, and the economy – now and in the future. When parents can attend to a child’s early medical needs, infant mortality and the occurrence and length of childhood illnesses are reduced, which in turn lowers private and public health expenditures. During the crisis, many people are putting their health needs on hold, and child vaccination and well visit rates are dropping. Once we are able to return safely to routine healthcare visits, families will need paid time to meet their own and their child’s medical needs. Paid leave can also give parents and other caregivers time to search for quality child care that meets the unique needs of their families, thereby allowing them to enter/re-enter the workforce.

Sierra, from Sylacauga, AL, shared this concern:
“I had surgery right before the virus had gotten to the level it is at now. I had expected to be out of work for two weeks (no paid leave). Now I can’t work both because I have an increased health risk and because child care is closed. So my two children and myself are trying to make ends meet with no pay, no work, and no assistance that I could possibly get fast enough to help. I truly hope the government is going to be sending help to families like mine because we desperately need it.”

  • Contact

    Jim Bialick

    Director, Government Relations

    ZERO TO THREE

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