California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to give every newborn in the state the chance to be cared for by a parent or close family member for the first six months of life.
Newsom moved one step closer to that goal last week, with a legislative proposal to expand paid family leave from six to eight weeks beginning in July 2020, and to extend it to six months per child by 2021-22. The proposal is part of Newsom’s budget package, to be presented to the state Legislature in May.
Paid family leave, paid for by all employees in the state through a payroll tax, allows workers to receive an amount equal to 60 to 70 percent of their wages when they take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or a newborn or adopted baby. The payroll tax is 1 percent on wages under $118,000.
Newsom, who took office in January, has made early childhood a major focus of his administration. In his budget he also proposed to offer subsidized preschool to all low-income 4-year-olds in the state over the next three years, build more child care centers, train more early childhood teachers and screen more infants and toddlers for developmental delays.
“Allowing parents to stay at home by providing paid family leave achieves the dual goal of allowing parents to help their children with essential early brain development and improve their family economic security,” he states in his proposal.
Research points to the health benefits of expanding paid family leave. Paid leave helps reduce maternal stress and has been found to increase breastfeeding rates and improve children’s health, according to several researchers.
Newsom’s proposal points out that by adding two weeks of leave, two-parent families would have an additional month to care for and bond with newborns, if parents take their leaves separately.
Newsom plans to come up with a proposal by November to further expand paid family leave by 2021-22, so that infants can be cared for by a parent or close family member for a full six months.
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