NationalWilliam J. Ford

CBCF Panel Calls for Nationwide Policy for Paid Family Leave

Lawmakers in eight states and the District of Columbia implemented laws to offer paid family leave, to which employees and employers make certain financial contributions, the National Conference of State Legislature notes.

However, rules and regulations differ in each jurisdiction that’s driving one congressman’s push for a national paid family leave policy.

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), who led a virtual chat Sept. 15 during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 50th annual legislative conference, said the United States represents the only country among 41 other peer nations without a national paid leave policy.

“I want to make sure the overwhelming benefits to the entire family…that having paid leave is available to every American,” he said during the nearly 40-minute virtual discussion. “Right now, that’s not the reality for most Americans, especially for Black and brown families. “These realities are unacceptable in the United States of America and we have to do something about it.”

In March, the congressman from Dallas took one month of paternity to help his wife take care of their newborn son, Cameron. Allred took similar leave in 2019 after the couple’s first son, Jordan.

He became the first member of Congress to take such leave.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden proposed for employers to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave paid for through new federal taxes.

In the meantime, organizers of a “Paid Leave for All” campaign want a comprehensive plan passed by 2023.

Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow at the women’s initiative with Center for American Progress in northwest D.C., said Black women lead among all women who are the main caregivers of their families.

“For Black women, the decision to participate in the paid workforce is not an option. It’s a necessity,” said Frye, who’s also part of the Paid Leave for All initiative. “Paid family leave for Black families is quite timely and long overdue.”

Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, who serves on the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s board of directors, said her sister-in-law takes care of both the home and the care of Leonard’s older brother as he fights his second bout of cancer.

“My sister-in-law is trying to manage how she’s working and how she manages giving him the care that [her husband] needs,” she said. “If you don’t have that safety net, then you are worrying about how can I financially address this? What is my choice? Either I have to give care, or I have to leave my job.”

Unfortunately, thousands of Black and Latino are single mothers without assistance from the father.

That’s why Nelly Cuenca of Dallas created a nonprofit organization to support single mothers such as herself. Her group called MaaPaa, which stands for “Mama/Papa” named by her five-year-old son, specifically helps mothers raising sons.

“The mothers that we serve don’t have a support system and many times they are moving away from a toxic environment,” Cuenca said. “We need to understand that the support is needed for them to be empowered in order for them to gain freedom and financial stability with a one-household income.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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