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Value All Care, Value Every Family

By in Huffington Post on June 16, 2017

By Ellen Bravo

You seldom see legislators tear up as they argue for a piece of legislation. But that’s what happened recently when Connecticut state senators made the case for a paid family and medical leave bill, leading with stories from their own lives. Sen. Catherine Osten talked about the agony of having been a single mother working two jobs without the time she needed to help her child heal after sexual molestation. Sen. Gary Winfield described what it meant that he was able to help his mother when she was dying. Others talked about caring for a grandparent or an ailing sibling. They seemed surprised and moved by the power of their colleagues’ remarks. Sen. Edwin Gomes noted that providing care is “the most valuable thing [people] can do for their families because that’s what keeps families together.”

We need to be sure that any paid leave plan does not exclude all the loved ones these legislators described. A broken hip, heart attack, cancer – life happens to those we love and to ourselves. As Sen. Winfield put it, “It’s a story about all of us.”

Caring for a loved one or a personal illness, in fact, makes up more than three-quarters of the leaves people take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) —the law that guarantees unpaid leave. As a nation, we need to value all kinds of care and all kinds of families. The FMLA itself has a narrow definition of family as only your own parents, your married spouse and your children; we need one that recognizes our nation’s wide diversity of families. The plan must be comprehensive in order to cover everyone who will pay into the program. It should take into account the growing numbers of seniors who require care, the needs of military families, and […]    

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