Paid Leave Must Stay in Build Back Better
December 9, 2021
Since the pandemic, two teachers at my child care center have had to take time off work to give birth. Another teacher had to take time off to finish her last round of chemotherapy and treatment.
Each of these individuals had to do so without paid leave. Instead, they forfeited their vacation time and/or sick time to cover some of this time.
I would love to support my employees financially during these important times of their lives, but, unfortunately, I have never had the resources to do so.
Despite the crucial role child care plays in the lives of children, families and in our economy, these essential workers are underpaid and often without benefits, such as paid leave.
The inability to provide paid leave has not helped to attract or retain workers. Currently, I offer free childcare to teachers who work at The Growing Tree; however, that also means I do not receive enough compensation for my services.
Beyond my employees, I also understand how the lack of paid leave impacts families, especially women and working women. I often see stress on Mom’s faces as they bring their babies into my center, eight weeks after being born, wishing they had more time, but needing to go back to work.
Fortunately, President Biden’s Build Back Better Act includes a national paid family and medical leave policy that would guarantee everyone has access to four weeks of paid leave annually. This would mean 344,000 Wisconsinites who need it will be able to take paid leave each year. This includes 182,000 women in Wisconsin, 96,000 of which are women with low-incomes.
Paid leave was included in the version of the bill passed by the House. Now, the Senate needs to pass the Build Back Better, with paid leave included.
Brooke Skidmore co-owns The Growing Tree, a child care center in New Glarus, Wisconsin, with her brother. The Growing Tree has been operating since 2013