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New Study Issues Report Card on U.S. Family Leave Policies: Did Your State Pass the Test?

A new report released by the National Partnership for Women and Families called “Expecting Better” sheds a troubling light on the state of the nation’s family leave policies. The organization has taken stock of the benefits provided to workers in both the private and public sector and awarded each state a grade from A to F. The results are shocking. 

Currently the United States has very few laws in place to protect families before and after the birth of a child. This means it is up to each individual state to determine the the policies that support new parents. From the look of some of the statistics in the report, this is a task at which many states are failing miserably.

The report shows that only 11% of private sector workers have access to paid leave after the birth of a child and only 38% have short-term disability insurance. Low-income earners are most disadvantaged as many work for small businesses that are not required to comply with the Family Medical Leave Act. This only serves to add to the hardships face by America’s most impoverished.

The report notes that the U.S. is not a part of the 178 countries that guarantee paid leave for new mothers, much less the 54 that provide the same for new fathers, forcing many moms to return to work before they are ready. Studies have shown that women who rush back to work are at a higher risk for overall poor health and postpartum depression and are more likely to stop breastfeeding. Thus, the toll of failing to protect new parents with federal policies is sizable for both mother and child.

You may be wondering what grade your state was awarded based on its current policies. If you’re hoping you reside in an A state, you are in for a disappointment. Two states, California and Connecticut, were issued a grade of A-. New Jersey and Washington D.C. received grades of B+. Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii were awarded a grade of B.

Everywhere else? B- and below. You can check out the full report here including a map of the United States and their corresponding grade. An in depth look at each state’s policies can be found towards the end of the report.

How does your state measure up?

Photo credit: iStock

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