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Advocacy Group Calls for Longer Maternity Leave & Time Off to Care for Sick Children

A recent story from the State Journal caught the eye of our Illinois birth injury lawyers. The article shared information on yet another problem faced by many new mothers-the frequently inadequate lengths of maternity leave. In many industries the standard length of leave that a woman receives following the birth of a child is six weeks. Yet some observers are now suggesting that this in not long enough.

According to researchers at the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), six weeks is a woefully inadequate amount of time for mothers to recover following childbirth. Instead they are recommending that a proper length of time would be more than twice that long. They are recommending that federal lawmakers establish 14 weeks of universal paid leave for mothers. The NCCP is a division of the School of Public Health at Columbia University and is a nonpartisan, public interest research group.

At the root of their recommendations are claims by the group that increased length of maternity leaves usually results in longer times where infants are breastfed. The increased breastfeeding has been shown to improve the infant’s neurological and psychosocial development. Therefore if more mothers, particularly those in lower economic brackets, were given longer paid maternity leaves there could be significant improvements in overall child health and development.

Those child health benefits would be coupled with other benefits of longer maternity leaves. Giving mothers more time to recover from the birthing process is crucial, and NCCP officials explain that longer time off would improve maternal health. That would be coupled with improvements in parent-child relationships.

Getting federal lawmakers to add 14 weeks of universal unpaid leave as part of the federal paid leave policy is not going to be an easy task. Right now only two states have policies in place similar to the ones being recommended by NCCP.

Globally the U.S. is somewhat an outlier in its leave policy. The group noted that “In 2012, the United States remains the only industrialized nation without a national paid family leave program that supports workers who need time off to attend to important family needs, such as caring for a new baby or a sick child.”

The NCCP is also calling for comprehensive policy changes to allow families to care for chronically sick children or those with special needs.

It is important for all local residents to be aware of these issues and plan accordingly. Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm knows that the concern about inadequate time off is often even more pressing for families whose children suffer a birth injury. This is just one of many ways that entire families and extended-families are forever affected by these injuries. Mothers often have to make very difficult choices about their jobs when deciding how to ensure their injured child receives the care they need down the road. Some families make the choice to have a parent stop working to provide the needed care. Yet, this is an impossibility for some families who likely need as much income as possible to ensure their child has access to the resources they need.

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