As paid family leave gets left out of the Biden social spending plan this week, Virginia Tech family expert Caroline Sanner says U.S. policymakers continue to dismiss clear and consistent research evidence to the detriment of American families.

“The benefits of paid family leave policies are well established,” said Sanner. “Studies consistently show that paid family leaves are associated with better health and well-being for the entire family. Since the early 2000s, countries around the world - with the exception of the United States - have been increasing the length of paid family leave to give parents more time with their newborns.”

Sanner says research consistently shows that lengthy parental leaves predict better parent and child health as well as lower family stress.

“The benefits of longer parental leaves also extends to employers. Women are more likely to return to work after childbirth in those countries that have longer leaves, and it's more cost-effective for companies to retain employees than it is to rehire and retrain new ones,” she said.

Biden’s budget plan initially called for 12-weeks of paid family leave, which includes leave for new parents and elder care. That was whittled down to four and finally down to none.

“If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that families in the U.S. are expected to over-function to support themselves with a threadbare social safety net beneath them. Strengthening families requires strong national policies, but U.S. policymakers have consistently communicated that American families are expected to fend for themselves.”

Caroline Sanner is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Virginia Tech.

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To schedule an interview with Caroline Sanner, contact Bill Foy in the Virginia Tech Media Relations office at 540-998-0288.

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