State giving new parents options

(Bedford) Times-Mail

In a striking move that puts focus on the importance of family, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order that gives state employees up to four weeks of paid parental leave time.

The policy, which goes into effect Monday, gives employees up to four weeks to spend time with a newborn or newly adopted child. To qualify for parental leave, employees must have worked for the state for at least six consecutive months. Full-time employees will receive up to 150 hours (four weeks) of leave while part-time employees are eligible for up to 75 hours (two weeks).

The policy allows employees to take the time incrementally. It can be used up to six months after a child is born or adopted.

“This new policy supports families and healthy kids by ensuring parents — both women and men — get the time they need to bond and adjust to a new baby or adopted child,” Holcomb said. “This policy sends a strong message to attract more top talent to state government service.”

The move is a good first step.

The Institute for Working Families notes that about 85,000 babies are born in Indiana each year, yet only a small percentage reap the care and attention of families unburdened by the many financial stressors a new baby brings with it.

Those babies who have parents who can financially enjoy time off are said to have:

•Better bonding with parents,

•Decreased infant mortality,

•Increased breastfeeding (along with its accompanying health benefits),

•Completion of required vaccinations,

•Decreased child abuse, and

•Increased odds of being placed in high-quality, stable child care.

For far more babies, however, the strain their caregivers experience trying to fit in nighttime feedings and doctor visits will be exacerbated by the pressure to return to work as quickly as possible in order to cope with the costs of raising a child.

Erin Macey, a policy analyst at the Institute for Working Families, has been working toward expanding paid leave in the state.

She said the executive order is a good start, but wants to see the benefit reach more Hoosiers.

More employers, especially those in the private sector, should follow in the state’s footsteps and look at ways they can support parents and families.

It matters how much time parents spend with their children.

We applaud Holcomb for leading Indiana in the right direction when it comes to giving parents options.