America is facing a national crisis. It is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t offer paid time off to new parents — and moms and dads are struggling.
The current national policy, the Family and Medical Leave Act, only offers parents 12 weeks of leave — but that’s unpaid, if the parents are even eligible. A handful of states have tried to compensate with their own paid leave laws, but with only four states nationwide that offer them so far, they’re the exception, not the rule.
As a result, families are at the behest of their workplace to determine how much time off they’ll get with their new baby, if any, before they have to go back to work. In a system that depends on employer generosity, the results leave much to be desired: Only 12 percent of private-sector workers have paid family leave.
When parents don’t have paid family leave, the outcomes are devastating: 1 in 4 working moms return to work less than two weeks after giving birth. They suffer higher rates of depression and stress, and their babies experience more health risks as they are breastfed less and brought to fewer medical appointments.
Families as a whole suffer without paid leave, as parents are forced to take unpaid time off to be with their new child, causing some families to fall into poverty.
The Huffington Post spoke to eight families across the country to see how they brought their babies into the world without assured paid time off. These are their stories »