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La Leche League…Ahead of the Times

shutterstock_15805009By Brenda Bandy, LLL USA Representative to USBC, IBCLC

Almost 60 years ago, the founders of La Leche League had a vision of a community in which mothers and babies would be together “early and often.” They recognized “the baby has an intense need to be with his mother.” They understood the value of mothers and babies being together for as long as possible. These women were ahead of their time.  Today, their values are being voiced as a part of the national conversation about the need for paid family leave in the United States.

President Obama highlighted this issue during his most recent State of the Union address earlier this year. He correctly pointed out “…we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.”

The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) and MomsRising partnered to host a virtual town hall meeting in December 2014 where hundreds of mothers and individual advocates were invited to share perspectives and experiences. One of the clear messages to come from the virtual town hall meeting was a need for paid leave in the United States.

CP_midyear_reportThis message was highlighted in a letter signed by thousands of individuals and organizations. USBC staff and volunteers hand delivered the letter and “welcome kit” to every Congressional office on January 22, to welcome the new 114th Congress as part of the USBC’s “Welcome Congress” event.  The letter called for the 114th Congress to “establish paid family leave as a self-funded national insurance program that supports workers and businesses.”

To address the need for paid leave in the United States, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act was introduced in the last Congress to create a national family and medical leave insurance program to provide workers with a portion of their wages for a limited period of time (up to 60 workdays, or 12 weeks in a year) to address “…childbirth; […] and to care for a new child.” It is anticipated the FAMILY Act will be reintroduced in the new Congress. For more information about the FAMILY Act including statute updates, visit the National Partnership for Women & Families website at www.nationalpartnership.org/issues/work-family/family-act.html.

This vision of a community where mothers and babies are together for as long as possible may become a reality.

Infographic source: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/07/30/3465922/paid-family-leave/