Share Your Story – Bobby

Parent Voices: Hopeful outlook for new Paid Family Leave #TimeWithMyBaby

Time spent at home with newborns is a critical bonding period between parent and child, and can also prove helpful for parents simply adjusting to the little one in their lives. “There’s probably no way to prepare for a kid, that’s what you learn pretty quick,” Bobby explains. “You need a village and the village isn’t easy if you don’t have it close by. So for the times where you don’t have your family nearby, it becomes extremely stressful for work.”

New Jersey is one of the few states that offers a Paid Family Leave Insurance program, and recently, passed a law that aims to strengthen the current program. The new changes were made so that more families could access the program.

Prior to the current enactment, few parents were taking advantage of the time offered to them. In 2016, more than 56,000 infants in the Garden State had a working mother, yet only about 27,000 claims were filed by both fathers and mothers for time to bond with their baby. This was partially financially driven, as parents could only collect 60 percent of their salary if they took the six weeks off, forcing many families to make the difficult choice between time to bond with their babies and economic security.

“The main reason for me not taking it was financially,” said Bobby “So I had to go back to work within the first two weeks of my first being born, which is difficult because you don’t have sleep,” Bobby explains. “My wife took family leave, which is good... But even so, a mom at home by herself wasn’t the easiest time at all. Especially when number two comes along.”

However, the new and improved Paid Family Leave Insurance program in New Jersey now allows for twelve weeks of leave at 80 percent of salary. Hopefully, this change will enable families to feel more financially secure when taking time off.

Another issue seen with the old Paid Family Leave program was the discrepancy between who actually takes advantage of the program. This stems from a stigma among workers who take time off, especially fathers. In 2016, 80 percent of the claims were made by women. “It’s a social norm that the father works and the father goes back to work and those are the things we have to get away from,” explains Bobby.

The new program protects employees from termination or demotion for taking time off if they work for a business with more than 30 employees, an improvement from the old law that only protected workers in businesses with more than 50 employees. The change aims to help reduce the stigma and make taking time off a more accepted practice in the workplace.

New Jersey is making progress by strengthening the Paid Family Leave program. By giving parents more time off with their children at a higher wage, the state has made an investment that promises to give children a brighter tomorrow.

Read more stories about child care, social-emotional development, paid family leave and family support told by parents and providers

Parent Voices: A story on social-emotional development

#NowhereToTurn

Being the mother of a young child can be stressful, but having a young child with emotional and behavioral needs has its own unique set of challenges. Danielle shares her experiences with her son, Theo.


Parent Voices: Child care through the lens of a mother and provider

#ForTheChildren

Jennifer Santana knows the importance of child care for babies as both an Early Head Start manager as well as a mother. However, she also acknowledges the high cost of quality for both the family and for the provider. Read her story.

Parent Voices: Paid Family Leave Helps Parents and Babies

#TimeWithMyBaby

Time spent at home with newborns is a critical bonding period between parent and child, and can also prove helpful for parents simply adjusting to the little one in their lives. Hear one story from a family who had children under the old Paid Family Leave program.

Parent Voices: Challenges after finding child care

#TheJuggleIsReal

"I had to call out of work a lot and employers who don't have children just don't understand."

"If you're a working parent, there's only so many days that you got that you can call out before it starts to be an issue."

"Sometimes, you have to choose, do I need my money? Or do I need to choose my child? I got released from my job because I had to keep calling out. But at the end of the day, I had to be a mom."

Parent Voices: Child care subsidies

#BrokenSystem

"I don't feel like there's a lot of quality day cares and it's kind of like factory-run, especially in low-income day cares."

"All children should be treated the same way, even if you have a subsidy. They deserve to be in a safe place and they deserve to have resources available to them."

"The cost is usually quite a factor. If you and your husband are both working, you don't qualify because you're not poor enough. Just five dollars can put you out of the program."

Parent Voices: Unaffordable

#StickerShock

"I only earn enough to cover the babysitter and food. If work is slow, I sometimes can't pay the babysitter so I have to stay home."

"I'm going to be working to pay for child care - it's crazy!"

"What I paid in child care was what it cost for me to go to college for a year!"

"The cost is usually quite a factor. With two people having to work, one of them is just working for the babysitter."

Parent Voices: Quality missing

#AreYouKiddingMe

"I walked in and there were, like, 8 toddlers lying on the floor in the dark watching a TV show and I was like, 'Are you kidding me!?"

 

"They actually had dirty cribs sitting outside, trash, flies, and all of that. All the strollers and everything piled on top of others in the hallway."

 

"Every time I come up there, there's a different teacher in his room. I'm like, 'Okay, who are you? You're not the person I met last week."

Parent Voices: Quality costs

#WorthEveryPenny

"I always say the teacher in the baby room taught me how to be a mom."

"It is ridiculously expensive but they're teaching your children so much. I'm fortunate to have found what we found."

"I'm like, thank God for them because they actually know how to raise children. You know you have educators raising your children as opposed to a parent who no one gave me that book."

Parent Voices: What they look for in child care

#TheBestForMyBaby

"Someone who was right for my child and right for my family."

 

"It had to be clean, it had to be safe, it had to have good parent recommendations, and allow me to stay with her or watch over to make sure she does okay and pop in and out whenever."

 

"A place where you will find qualified people that will provide love, learning, teaching, safety. We just want to protect her and give her the best."

Parent Voices: Quality child care

#HowDoIKnow

"You have no idea what you're supposed to be looking at."

 

"I was pregnant and I had no clue what I was getting into. I toured places and I brought my mom and she was hesitant. I'm like, 'But this is my only option - this is it!'"

 

"I just felt so helpless during that whole time period. If there was a secure door, and people generally seemed happy, that child care center was ok with me, because I just felt desperate."

Parent Voices: What needs to happen

#ChildCareThatWorks

"Make it more available. Because the issue here is not being able to even get to child care or have child care. Make it more accessible, more affordable, and less problems in the registration."

 

"We need an actual substantive comparison that you can make, more options, good options, would have been less frustrating."

 

"Let the government know child care matters and that they recognize the strain on families."

Parent Voices: When to begin?

#NeverTooEarly

"You have to do it before you conceive!"

 

"I didn't realize how much in advance you needed to secure a spot... I went to a few day cares and they [said] we have one spot left and there were all these other families touring.... You have to make this huge decision and you have 24 hours to make it! I put my name on waiting lists before we even moved here. They [the child care center] were my first call, they were the first people after my family to find out I was pregnant."

Parent Voices: Flexible hours

#Unavailable

"The majority of my background is sales, so people want to hire you for nights and weekends and I don't have weekend help at all."

 

"It depends on the kind of occupation that you have that determines the hours you need, especially if you work at nighttime.... I guess you have to have someone you trust watch them at nighttime."

 

"We need a 24-hour day care and with shifts in it because some people work at night."

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