Every day, new parents in America go back to work way sooner than they should. This despite an overwhelming body of research (and the lived experiences of parents in other developed nations) which proves that paid leave has massive benefits for babies, parents and society.
For parents who need it now, the wait for America to catch up on paid leave is incredibly frustrating, but change is coming, and this week there was a big push in the right direction.
On Thursday, California governor Gavin Newsom proposed what could become the best parental leave plan in America. Right now, some new parents in his state see a portion of their wages paid for six weeks after the baby comes. Newsom wants to stretch it to six months.
If put into practice this plan (while still not offering as much time as parents in other countries get) would be the best in the country, and could put pressure on other states to implement or lengthen paid leaves for parents.
The plan is part of Newsom's 2019 budget, and could see two parents splitting the six months—great news for fathers.
According to the governor's office, Newsom's Administration is committed to "ensuring that all newborns and newly adopted babies can be cared for by a parent or a close family member for the first six months."
That's a commitment a lot of American parents can appreciate. According to Pew, 82% of Americans support paid maternity leave, and 69% support paid paternity leave.
Newsom, a father of four young kids who was elected in November, also included in the budget "funding for universal preschool for all income-eligible four-year-old children in the state, phased in over a three-year period. This funding will allow state preschool providers to offer full-day/full-year care to better accommodate working parents."
(How many American parents are Googling "moving to California" right now?)
So where will the money for this come from? Well, it could come from payroll deductions, like the new plan in Washington state. According to Newsom's office, "during the year, the Administration will convene a task force to consider different options to increase participation in the program and to phase in this program expansion."
We'll be watching to see how this plays out, and so, hopefully, will lawmakers in other states and in Washington.