During the pandemic, with so many families struggling with childcare, I am more grateful than ever for my role in helping children and families in our community. As the owner of a child care center, I feel a deep calling to help our children get off to a good start in life. When a child smiles and laughs, the world is better for it. Yet, too many families in Colorado do not receive the initial foundation and support they need. Eighty percent of Coloradans still go without essential benefits like paid family and medical leave.
While I do not usually get involved in political issues, I cannot keep quiet when it comes to the needs of children and small businesses like mine. At Stepping Stones Learning Center, we’re focused on early childhood development, and we see exactly why paid family and medical leave is an essential benefit not just for the sake of children’s development, but also for the sake of my business so I can hold onto the employees who make it run so well.
It cannot be said enough how crucial it is for parents to be home with their newborns. For decades, research has shown that in those early developmental stages, a parent’s ability to bond with their infant lays the foundation for that child’s cognitive and social development. Unfortunately, due to lack of paid leave, one in four mothers returns to work just two weeks after giving birth. We must do better. Infants need to be with their parents, and we should not be putting new mothers in a position where they must choose between their children and their livelihoods.
Of course, paid leave is just as much about our workers and our business as it is the kids. I work hard to make sure I have the right staff for the right job. We choose them because they are a good fit for us, and we want to hold on to them.
One day we will all need some time off to care for ourselves or a loved one — whether that is because of the birth of a child or a serious illness. We want our employees to have time to recover or care for a seriously ill loved one, without having to worry about losing their income or even their job.
With so many challenges facing our community and our health right now, Coloradans need basic protections like paid family and medical leave to support our families and our small businesses. It is time for all of us to start looking out for each other.