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What's Trump's Family Leave Plan All About?

Read between the lines of Trump's paid leave plan.

What's Trump's Family Leave Plan All About?

The United States is one of the only advanced economies without paid family leave available to new parents. Millions of prospective parents find, to their dismay, that they must piece together vacation time and unpaid leave to stay home with their new babies and to recover from childbirth. State-based advocates have been working to pass paid leave policies and have been successful in California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York, leaving a huge gap for parents in other states. President Trump’s recent budget proposal lays the groundwork for the first federal paid parental leave plan, but what does it offer?

Under Trump’s plan, which currently is just one paragraph in the proposed budget, birth and adoptive parents would have 6 weeks of paid parental leave. States’ paid family leave programs generally cover: who gets leave, under what circumstances individuals (not just for new parents) can take leave, the length of leave, the amount of pay, and the employees’ rights to return to their job after leave ends. Trump’s proposed parental leave plan only covers who will get leave (birth and adoptive parents) and how long the leave is for (6 weeks).

The proposed plan would be funded through the Unemployment Insurance program. The United States Department of Labor oversees the Unemployment Insurance program, but states generally fund the program and vary how much is paid out, hence the state by state differences. Currently, states pay for most of the funding for their state specific unemployment insurance programs, while the federal government pays for the administrative costs.

Trump’s plan would require states to maintain sufficient balances in their Unemployment Insurance funds, and states with insufficient balances would be expected to increase their state unemployment taxes, which are paid by employers, to build up their fund balances. The amount of leave time would be set federally at six weeks, but the details of how much pay parents would receive will depend on which state they live in.

The current Unemployment Insurance program is designed to pay part, but not all, of an employee’s wages. For example, the maximum weekly benefit amount allowed in Mississippi is $235.00, while the maximum benefit amount in Massachusetts is $742 per week. Because of recent case law, the federal government might not be able to force states to expand their unemployment insurance programs, and some states that are underfunded probably would not expand their programs. In addition, based on the limited information available, it seems this plan would allow mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents to use leave to care for their newborns, but not to care for their own medical conditions.

There are many criticisms of this plan, starting with a commonly held view that six weeks is not enough time to spend with a newborn, and that state unemployment insurance programs are unable to deal with paid leave. Six weeks typically is the amount of time recommended for women recovering from uncomplicated vaginal births, not to care for and bond with newborns. More time is often needed just to recover from C-sections. Moreover, some critics believe that finding childcare for babies who are six weeks old is problematic.

The plan also would not cover time off to care for ill family members, such as existing state-based paid family leave plans. Even under existing federal law, the Family Medical Leave Act, twelve weeks of unpaid leave are available to eligible employees to care for their own medical conditions or to care for their family members. But, not all employees qualify for FMLA. (The FMLA covers employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employment location. To use FMLA leave, an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.)

Once a federal law is passed, it often sets the ceiling for benefits, in all but the most progressive states. The Trump proposal sets a low bar for paid family leave and is less generous than existing state programs. Plus, Trump’s budget also proposes severe cuts to existing social welfare programs that benefit mothers and newborns –– including Medicaid and Food Stamps. This attempt to provide paid leave on a national level is a start, but you can still reach out to your Congressional representatives before this budget is enacted to tell them your opinion. Meanwhile, existing state programs are the only public paid leave schemes available to new parents in the United States.

Original photography by Ren’ee Kahn-Bresler for Well Rounded. Picture taken at Love Child Yoga.

Alex Berke and Rosa Aliberti work at Berke-Weiss Law PLLC. The New York City employment law firm created the Pregnancy Project to inform and empower pregnant women to negotiate effectively for their workplace and health insurance rights. The Pregnancy Project 90-minute seminar, offered at various locations in New York City and online, covers key questions and provides useful tips for addressing questions we frequently see in our practice. Check out our upcoming classes. If you find yourself being discriminated against at work, you can contact Berke-Weiss Law PLLC for a paid consultation.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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