Commentary: Foster parents need paid family and medical leave

Last year my wife and I welcomed a foster child into our family. We are honored to be foster parents. This experience was the most rewarding of our lives, if not for the difficulties.

The number of foster parents is increasing in Maine. He now has nearly 800 more children in Maine’s foster care system than he did in 2017, bringing the total number of children in foster care to more than 2,300, according to the Casey Foundation. .

In states where there are not enough foster homes to meet needs, We must do everything we can to support foster parents so that these children receive the best possible care. This year, we have a unique opportunity to bring a long-lasting gift to foster parents: a strong paid family plan and a medical leave program.

Paid family and medical leave is available when an employed foster parent initiates a foster child placed in the past year or a formal kinship care arrangement, i.e. when the child is placed in a family relative. We guarantee you time to bond with your foster child when you get home.

This time is very important in helping foster children develop and maintain positive beliefs about themselves, which serve a later life-preserving purpose. We all want our children to be safe, cherished and loved. The foster care system provides a safe haven while the biological parents strive to be reunited, or provides permanent adoption through adoption if deemed necessary. Helps many children achieve this.

We know that foster care can be a lifeline for LGBTQIA youth who have been humiliated, punished, or kicked out by their families of origin. We also know that more than 5,200 of her grandparents in Maine are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. This means that if grandparents are employed, they are likely to need paid leave at some point for their own health, and if grandparents are unemployed, loved ones who are employed may become dependents of the family. It means that you are more likely to need paid leave to care for someone. A comprehensive definition of family is also important for older people who need and provide care.

Parents who welcome a new child into the home need to focus solely on that child and allow time for them to fully adapt to such a major change. With strong and universal programs of paid family and medical leave, low-wage middle-class workers would receive most of their regular wages. You also don’t have to worry about losing your job or health insurance. To prioritize workers and make transparent how tax dollars are used to fund the program, the program will be run by government agencies across the state, whose primary objective is the success of eligible workers throughout the application process. is to support

Eleven other states (including Washington, D.C.) have created statewide, government-run paid family and medical leave programs. Seven of the companies accepting applications are doing so at a higher quality and lower cost than private companies. The remaining four companies are still in the launch stage and have not yet started accepting applications.

When my wife and I became foster parents, we were lucky enough to have the time off we needed through our employer’s paid parental leave program. But I know that for many of my fellow foster parents, that rarely happens. The time has come for us to unite to change that. We have a chance to make this happen by introducing a bill in Congress now. This would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave scheme for all workers in Maine.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. Let us show our love and gratitude to all kinds of mothers, guardians and primarily those who care for children in our state. Consider joining the Maine Paid Vacation Coalition. Talk to your legislators and neighbors about creating a strong paid family and medical leave program here in Maine.

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