U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), along with Senator Angus King (I-ME), have reintroduced a bill, the Strong Families Act, that would offer employers incentives to voluntarily provide paid family or medical leave to their employees. Fischer’s efforts to enable working families to have continued access to pay while meeting necessary family obligations were recognized last week at the American Enterprise Institute, where she delivered remarks about paid family leave and her proposal to address the issue. Her proposal reflects bipartisan support, as well as collaboration with the business community, which is representative of her service on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
On The Strong Families Act, Fischer said, “I believe we can achieve meaningful change that will allow both employees and businesses to grow our economy. And we can do it without punishing mandates or picking winners and losers. We owe it to the American people to discover shared solutions that can lead to stronger families and communities.”
Her comments come at a time when paid leave in the U.S. is at the forefront of national discussion and debate. In fact, according to a factsheet from the U.S. Department of Labor, only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Furthermore, paid leave leads to better outcomes for both parents and children. Maternity leave improves child health outcomes, including increased birth weight, decreased premature births and decreased infant mortality. Paid leave also encourages men to take paternity leave and serve as caregivers, which has a number of positive effects for families.
The day-to-day demands on families are ever-changing, requiring parents to adapt constantly to meet their children’s most crucial developmental needs. While the world around them continually changes, the kinds of relationships and learning experiences children require for healthy cognitive, emotional and social growth remain constant.
First Five Nebraska appreciates efforts at both the state and federal levels to secure public policy that helps parents form healthy attachments with their children so they can provide positive, stimulating experiences that lay the foundation for lifelong success.