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States Applaud Department of Labor Paid Family Leave Grants

September 24, 2014

As States Lead the Way, Washington, DC; Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Montana to Receive Combined $500,000 to Help Advance, Evaluate Family Leave Insurance Funds

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Media Contact: Alex Edwards, alex.edwards@berlinrosen.com, 202-800-8691

(Washington, DC) – The Department of Labor Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration today awarded $500,000 to assist the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Montana and Rhode Island in developing or implementing paid family and medical leave programs at the state level. Three grants — in Washington DC, Massachusetts and Montana — provide funding for feasibility studies on paid leave, including helping with the planning, research and design costs to the program; while Rhode Island will receive funds to help evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s existing program, as well as to raise the public’s awareness about the fund and its benefits to Rhode Islanders.

In response, Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a network of coalitions in 21 states that organize for paid sick days and paid family leave, issued the following statement:

“We applaud Secretary Perez and the Obama administration for prioritizing paid family leave and recognizing that states are laboratories for change. Awarding $500,000 in grants is a significant and meaningful investment to help Washington DC, Massachusetts and Montana cover the financial, research and planning requirements to developing a family leave insurance fund; and in the case of Rhode Island, to raise public awareness about the program and evaluate its effectiveness. We are particularly proud of Family Values @ Work partner coalitions in Rhode Island, Washington DC and Massachusetts, who helped spur the application for these competitive grants from the Department of Labor and today were recognized for their leading role in advancing paid leave.”

“Right now, million of workers who develop serious health conditions, have seriously ill family members or become parents are forced to choose between providing care or having the income they need to cover basic expenses. Often – as is the case in Washington State, which passed a paid parental leave program that awaits funding; or Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Hampshire, that have each initiated task forces to study the issue – states that want to move forward with paid family leave programs need additional help to do so.These grants offer such support, making it more likely that additional states will join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island in enacting a family and medical leave social insurance fund.”

“In 1995, I served on the bipartisan Commission on Leave appointed by Congress to study the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Despite many differences, the Commission unanimously recommended that states experiment with forms of paid family leave. Nearly 20 years later, states have been leading the way and proving that paid family leave is successful for workers, communities and businesses alike. Research from states that have already passed paid family leave legislation shows it not only boosts job retention and child health, but also has a positive or neutral impact on business. Moreover, once these insurance programs are up and running, they become self-sustaining.”

“Today’s announcement is the latest sign of the growing commitment by policy makers and business leaders to find a solution that can help every working family meet the dual demands of job and family. Like Sec. Perez, we encourage – and will continue to fight for – more states to take up paid leave legislation. But as a nation, we must also guarantee access to affordable leave to everyone. A growing body of evidence makes clear that the best way to dothat is through a national family and medical leave insurance program. As states continue to lead the way in passing paid leave programs, Congress should follow their lead and pass the federal FAMILY Act.”

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Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states that organize for paid sick days and paid family leave.

 

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