Speak up about paid family and medical leave in Colorado!

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: September 6, 2019

The FAMLI Task Force needs to hear from you as they develop recommendations for a paid family and medical leave program in Colorado! The task force is seeking public comment on why paid leave is important for Colorado and best practices to create an equitable and sustainable program. The deadline to submit comments is Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019.

Paid leave will strengthen Colorado families. It bolsters child and maternal health, child development, and involved parenting. Paid leave also helps ensure that children grow up in families that are financially secure, which supports their healthy development.

The FAMLI Task Force was established at the Department of Labor and Employment as required by SB19-188. The role of the task force is to develop recommendations for implementing a paid family and medical leave program in Colorado.

Submit your comments to the task force via email to Admira Makas at admira.makas@state.co.us. Feel free to use the sample text below to create your comments!

SAMPLE TEXT TO COPY AND PASTE

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

FAMLI Task Force

251 E. 12th Avenue

Denver, CO 80203

Attn: Admira Makas

Submitted via email: admira.makas@state.co.us

Re: Public Comment on a Paid Family and Medical Leave Program in Colorado

Dear Members of the FAMLI Task Force,

We appreciate the opportunity to provide public comment on the development of a paid family and medical leave program for Colorado. [ADD A SENTENCE TO DESCRIBE YOUR ORGANIZATION HERE].

[ORGANIZATION] supports the creation of a quality paid family and medical leave program that is accessible, affordable, adequate, and equitable for all Coloradans. Paid leave will strengthen Colorado families. It bolsters child and maternal health, child development, and involved parenting. Paid leave also helps ensure that children grow up in families that are financially secure, which supports their healthy development.

Paid Leave Supports Child Development and Maternal Health

[ORGANIZATION] believes Colorado needs a quality and accessible paid family and medical leave program because relationships with parents and other caregivers are critical to a baby’s early development. Our brains grow faster between the ages of 0 and 3 than at any later point in our lives, forming more than one million new neural connections every second. This means that a young child’s early relationships, especially with parents, shape the architecture of the developing brain, forming the foundation for all learning and relationships that follow.

Time at home with newborns and infants gives parents the time they need to breastfeed, attend well-child medical visits and ensure that their children receive all necessary immunizations. Each week of paid leave up to 12 weeks reduces the odds of a new mother experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. Paid leave is also associated with reduced infant mortality.

Fathers who take two or more weeks off after the birth of a child are more involved in that child’s direct care nine months after birth than fathers who take no leave. Involved fathers also promote children’s educational attainment and emotional stability.

Paid Leave Promotes Family Financial Security

[ORGANIZATION] also believes Colorado needs a quality and accessible paid family and medical leave program because it will promote financial security for families. When children are born into families experiencing financial insecurity, it impacts their health outcomes, social-emotional and cognitive development, and economic outcomes later in life. The stress for children caused by living in poverty can inhibit early brain development and negatively impact a child’s ability to succeed in school and develop the social-emotional skills needed to be successful adults. Unfortunately, early childhood is the time when a child is most likely to live in poverty.

Paid leave helps with income stability for families with new children, allowing new parents to maintain a source of income throughout the expensive health event of having a child. In addition, a study found that mothers who took paid leave were 39 percent less likely to receive public assistance and were 50 percent more likely to report a wage increase in the year following childbirth, than women who did not take any leave. Paid leave also helps ensure that mothers are able to more easily return to work after the birth of a child.

Components of a Paid Leave Program

To create a strong paid family and medical leave policy, we believe any new program should include the following components:

Employees should have access to at least 12 weeks of paid leave under the program. Research indicates six months of paid leave may offer the greatest amount of child development and maternal health benefits. For new parents, having at least 12 weeks of paid leave is important, both because many child care facilities don’t accept infants before 12 weeks, and infants with parents who have under 12 weeks of leave are less likely to receive vaccinations and other needed check-ups. All other states offer at least 12 weeks of paid medical leave, which is also in line with the standard set by FMLA.

The program should include progressive wage replacement. Wage replacement should be progressive, so employees working in low-wage jobs receive a greater percentage of their wage. Progressive wage replacement promotes equity and financial security for low-income families during a period of leave. When wage replacement rates are too low, employees in low-income families aren’t able to take needed leave.

Employees should have job protection under the program. Employees who use paid leave should have guaranteed job protection so that they can return to the same or a similar position when they return from leave. Without job protection, employees who need the benefit are less likely to use it. Job protection helps ensure that families will remain financially secure following leave, which supports children’s healthy development.

Thank you again for this opportunity to provide public comment in the development a paid family and medical leave program for Colorado. [ORGANIZATION] hopes you’ll consider our comments and develop a program which ensures no Coloradan ever has to choose between a paycheck and bonding with a new child, recovering from a serious illness, or caring for a loved one.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at [EMAIL/PHONE] if you have questions or need further information.

Sincerely,

[NAME]

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2014, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an attorney in Denver in the areas of venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and business law, and commercial transactions. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.