Daniela lives in Branford and is the Public Policy Director for NAMI Connecticut.

Why do you support paid family and medical leave?

Because being able to take care of one’s own health or other family member’s health or a new baby while not having to worry about financial security, and doing so through one’s own contribution, makes a lot of sense. It is not a matter of if but when most of us will encounter a situation that requires extra time and care and continued financial security.

How did you become aware of paid family and medical leave?

CWEALF reached out to NAMI Connecticut and asked if we wanted to join this effort to bring Connecticut closer to where almost the entire world has realized it is better to be, for everyone –  workers, employers and society at large.

Why is this issue important to you?

I have two major reasons: individuals with mental health conditions or their family members  should be able to take care of themselves or one another when a particular challenging time arises for which sick days or personal time off are not enough. This only benefits the human beings involved AND enhances the relationship between employers and employees, increases productivity and life satisfaction. In the leader of the free world, working people should be able to be free to pursue both careers and take care of their own and their loved ones health and wellbeing.

The second reason is very close to my heart: I grew up in Germany before moving to the United States almost twenty years ago and making this my second home. My mom has shared with me many times the story of my first year of life – where she was able to stay home with me for a full year and get to know me and enjoy our time together without having to worry about finances or going back to school to be a teacher. She felt very strongly about the importance of that time for us to bond. And enjoyed it even more as she had the comparison with my two older sisters with whom she was not able to stay home as the law was different several years earlier. Nobody can take that time together away, and it is so precious. When I had my twins I was able to stay home for four and a half month, using earned time off and unpaid time and being able to return to a work I really like and am passionate about, because of a very supportive and generous boss and some savings. I don’t know how hard it would have been if I had had to return after only a couple of weeks, which most working women have to do.

What do you wish all people knew about paid family and medical leave?

It makes sense – it benefits all involved – and it impacts every family in one way or another.

How will paid family and medical leave change Connecticut?

It will support working individuals and families in our state, which holds quality of life in high regard, and make it even more attractive to younger workers who also truly care about a good work environment and balance in life.