“Expecting Better:” policies for new families

In May 2012, the National Partnership for Women & Families published the second edition of Expecting Better, a comprehensive review of federal and state laws impacting expecting and new parents. The second edition of Expecting Better brings enthusiasm and hope to families since some states have gained ground addressing the challenges associated with work and family facing new families. The expansion of family rights in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, California, and Maine bring hope for the other States to follow.  Luckily, workers have gained new family friendly rights in the federal level as well. Many nursing mothers, while at work, are now guaranteed a private place and a reasonable break time to express breast milk, a provision of the 2010 health care reform law. In addition, a 2010 interpretation of the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) extends unpaid, but job-protected leave to a broader range of adults acting as in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) when they are caring for new or ill children.

Expecting Better is a great resource to families, documenting workers’ rights under current state laws and capturing the progress that States have made in promoting economic security to new parents. Paid leave is a significant step in advancing family rights and the United States is slowly, but steadily catching up with the rest of the World. The report acknowledges how far the United States has come, but also makes clear of how far we still have to go. Expecting Better also provides a State-by-State Report Card that assigns grades to each State reflecting the degree a State improved upon Federal law. 

The President and the House of Representatives have in their budget a small, but significant amount that will go towards the State Paid Leave Fund, money dedicated to assisting states interested in providing paid sick or family leave. While the Fund is in the proposed budgets of the President and the House of Representatives, it is crucial to make sure that the Fund remains in the budgets in both Houses as the process moves forward. The creation of the State Paid Leave Fund will assist in the financial stability of families, work security, reduce health care costs, and relieve families from stress at a time where they need to deal with an illness or care for a child.

The National Partnership for Women & Families has drafted a letter to the members of Congress that provides a detailed analysis in favor of the creation of the State Paid Leave Fund that would help States promote the financial well-being of working families. Family Equality Council and numerous other organizations have signed on in support the creation of the Fund. 

Sign on your state or federal organization here.