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Hopes For More California Paid Family Leave Disappear As Democrats Negotiate Build Back Better Act

Parent Noemí Cruz squats on a wooden floor to help hold up her infant as they smile at the camera.
Californians who contribute to the state's disability insurance fund can access 8 weeks of paid family leave a year.
(Noemí Cruz for LAist's Parenting, Unfiltered)
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California advocates for paid family leave are walking back expectations that the federal Build Back Better Act could expand the state’s existing benefit.

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Hopes For More California Paid Family Leave Disappear As Democrats Negotiate Build Back Better Act

In 2002, California became the first state to create a family leave benefit. Employees here can take up to eight partially paid weeks a year to care for family or bond with a child.

The Biden Administration’s original goal of 12 weeks paid family and medical leave would have boosted the state’s policy. Now, Democrats are reportedly fighting to keep at least four weeks in the bill as intraparty negotiations continue.

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“Four weeks is still better than nothing,” said Jenya Cassidy, director of the California Work & Family Coalition. “It's really not enough, but maybe it's a foot in the door — and it does give people some relief who don't have it.”

In the U.S., 41 states lack paid family leave policies.

People are left with an impossible choice between making ends meet at home and earning a paycheck and being there for their families.
— Annie Sartour, senior director of business partnerships at Paid Leave for the United States

“People are left with an impossible choice between making ends meet at home and earning a paycheck and being there for their families,” said Annie Sartor, senior director of business partnerships at Paid Leave for the United States.

Even with four weeks, dozens of other countries would still have more generous policies than the United States. A UCLA professor told The New York Times anything less than 12 weeks is “grossly inadequate.”

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Even Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex — and California resident — wrote Congress to support a national paid family leave policy.

If you’d like to take a page out of her book, you can contact the White House, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Alex Padilla or another member of California’s Congressional delegation.

What questions do you have about early childhood education and development? What do you want to know about kids ages 0-5 and those who care for them in Southern California?
Decades of research indicates early childhood education significantly boosts children’s readiness to learn. Mariana Dale wants families, caregivers and educators to have the information they need to help children 0-5 grow and thrive by identifying what’s working and what’s not in California’s early childhood system.