Pennsylvanians Deserve Paid Family Leave

Baby in stroller sucking on parent's finger and looking up.
Paid family leave promotes health equity and creates opportunities. Maria shares what paid family leave would have meant for her and her family.

When Maria had her third child she worked as a preschool teacher, earned $10 an hour, and was the primary provider for her family. Maria did not have access to paid family leave through her employer, which allows employees time off from work after giving birth, adopting, or welcoming a new child into the home, while still being compensated. 

Without access to paid leave Maria experienced financial stress while caring for her new baby, and her postpartum depression worsened. She credits her ability to make ends meet during her immediate postpartum period to receiving her tax return shortly after giving birth. Maria, who is now an Advocate at Maternity Care Coalition, says universal paid family leave would lower the risk of families going into crisis after giving birth and that many families across Pennsylvania have stories like her. 

Like Maria, many Pennsylvanians do not have access to paid family leave. Black and Hispanic women, households with an annual income under $30,000, and part time, low wage, and seasonal workers all currently experience less access to paid family leave.  

Over 50% of pregnancy related deaths occur within one year after delivery, making parents’ ability to focus on recovery imperative. Paid family leave encourages individuals to engage with postpartum care, which improves maternal health and may help prevent pregnancy related deaths. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses 12 weeks of paid family leave for families. 

Parents who use paid family leave describe it as positively impacting their ability to care for their new child. It reduces stress and supports financial stability, giving parents the opportunity to build a stronger bond with their child. As a result, paid family leave may also decrease family violence considering the greatest period of risk for child maltreatment is during a child’s first year of life. 

When Maria thinks about paid family leave, she thinks about birthing people getting time to heal before returning to work and the freedom it would afford parents to bond with their new child. Establishing universal paid family leave in Pennsylvania means prioritizing the health and success of Pennsylvania families, from parent to child.