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New Study Affirms the Need for Dads on the Job -- at Home
Kids Action has made paid family and medical leave a top policy priority, because research shows it directly contributes to the healthy upbringing of children. Last week, a report came out further strengthening the case for passing paid family leave laws. The State of America's Fathers found that paid leave is just as important for fathers as it is for mothers, because today fathers either play, or are expected to play, an increasingly large role in child-rearing. And, the report found, that's actually a good thing for the whole family. The problem is, most dads don't get paid leave for their newborn or newly adopted child.
The study found that:
- Parents of all genders want men to spend more time with their children.
- Sixty-three percent of employed parents (60 percent of men and 65 percent of women) feel they have too little time with their children.
- Men who are engaged at the beginning their children's lives are more likely to establish a pattern of lifelong participation.
- Active involvement of fathers during a child's early years improves chances of a child’s better physical and mental health, reduced exposure to violence, higher academic achievement, and better social skills.
- Paid leave for fathers has been linked with reduced postpartum depression and reduced stress in new mothers.
- Men who are offered paid leave use it. For example, in Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and the Netherlands, close to 90 percent of fathers use their paternity leave.
Clearly, new dads are not looking to ditch their duty to their kids, nor should they have to. Here's the problem: Only 9 percent of U.S. workers work for companies that offer paid paternity leave for all male employees. And with only four states having enacted paid family leave laws, we need legislation like the federal Family Act to ensure all dads and moms in the U.S. can take up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, or seriously ill family member. By ensuring paid family leave, fathers can spend time bonding time with their newborns. That's good for dads and moms, and it's really good for kids.
Tamar Dayanim is a policy intern with Common Sense Kids Action.