A new study has confirmed what every working parent already knows: our country doesn't do nearly enough to support new moms and dads when baby arrives. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Families conducted a state-by-state analysis, grading each state and the District of Columbia on whether it passed laws that expanded federal leave and workplace protections for families.
The results are worse than you think.
Only California managed to eke out an A, with Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and the District of Columbia coming in next with a B+. Sadly, 31 states earned a grade of D or lower; of those, more than half scored an F. The lowest-scoring states are scattered around the country--everywhere from Alabama to Delaware, Michigan to South Dakota. (To see how your state measured up, check out the full report.)
Despite growing public support for change, things aren't much better on the federal level. The U.S. is one of the few countries that doesn't guarantee paid leave for new moms or dads, and there are only three national laws designed to help families.
Still, it's not all doom and gloom. There have been some signs of progress since the nonprofit's first study was published nine years ago. Some states now guarantee reasonable workplace conditions for women with pregnancy-related physical limitations, which means more moms-to-be can stay on the job while pregnant. Employers in Hawaii are now required by law to provide nursing mothers time to pump during the workday, and if possible, give them somewhere besides a toilet stall to do it. And thanks to temporary disability insurance, some 24 million workers are now guaranteed access to paid sick days, paid family leave and paid medical leave.
The study was released just ahead of next week's White House Summit on Working Families, where the administration will unveil policies that will bring the U.S. more in line with other countries. My hope is that the proposals will prevent new parents from being penalized for deciding to have a family and help working moms make the already-tough transition back to the office that much smoother. Whether these concepts will be embraced by both sides of the aisle remains to be seen.
Tell us: Did you decide to go back to work after having your baby? What was the transition like for you?
Work-Life Balance in America
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