Today, the Pediatric Policy Council (PPC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called on Congress to quickly pass the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a social insurance system enabling workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves or their families.
The PPC is a national child health policy consortium representing four major pediatric academic organizations—the Academic Pediatric Association (APA), the American Pediatric Society (APS), the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC), and the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR)—and the AAP is an organization representing 62,000 pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists.
"Both scientific research and our clinical experience tell us that children need their parents at critical times in their lives, whether in the important weeks following birth or when recovering from serious illness," said Dr. Mark Schuster, President of the APA. "Too many parents simply can't afford to lose wages to care for their children's health. The FAMILY Act offers a potential solution to a vast problem."
In the United States, just 13 percent of private sector employees have access to paid family leave. Yet, research demonstrates that when parents have paid family leave following the birth of a child, mothers breastfeed longer and parents are more likely to take children for immunizations and well-child care. The first weeks and months of a child's life are critical to development; because of the important role of parents in this early period, paid family leave can have effects that last throughout life. And when children are seriously ill or suffer from chronic illness, having a parent by their side makes a significant difference to their recovery. At the same time, paid leave reduces parents' stress levels in these difficult circumstances. Yet, lacking paid leave, many parents must make the heart wrenching decision to leave their sick children alone in the hospital in order to preserve their family's economic security.
The FAMILY Act, which was reintroduced in Congress earlier this week, would be funded by employers and employees from contributions of just two cents on every 10 dollars. Workers could draw on the fund to recover from their own serious illness, care for a seriously ill family member, or bond with a new baby. Modeled after successful paid family leave insurance programs in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, the FAMILY Act builds on a foundation of experience and success.
Said Dr. Paul Chung, chair of the PPC, "The evidence from the states is compelling. For example, in California, the median duration of breastfeeding doubled among new mothers who took paid family leave. For children's health, we need to institute a nationwide system enabling all workers to access paid family and medical leave."
"Nurturing, stable relationships are a basic foundation of health for every child," said AAP President Dr. Sandra G. Hassink. "The FAMILY Act is important legislation that gives working families the opportunity to provide their children with the attention and support they need during their earliest, and most critical, time of development. Every child needs to be nurtured by relationships that promote their lifelong health, and paid family leave is a crucial first step to meeting that need."
The PPC and the AAP urges policymakers on both sides of the aisle to embrace the FAMILY Act, which makes sense for children, families, and the nation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.
The Pediatric Policy Council (PPC) is a public policy collaborative of four pediatric academic organizations: the Academic Pediatric Association, the American Pediatric Society, the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, and the Society for Pediatric Research. Established in 1984, the PPC is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the nation's children by supporting public policies to advance pediatric research, pediatric training, and quality health care for children and families.