As a young woman with chronic illness who grew up caring for an elderly grandmother, I already understand the importance of paid family and medical leave. During my childhood I spent 2-3 weekends a month, every holiday and the majority of summers with my family caring for my elderly grandmother. I am grateful that I was able to spend this time with my family and help provide my grandmother with the highest quality of life possible. My grandmother lived four hours away from my home and although this was a large time and financial commitment for my family, I am thankful that she lived a healthy and enjoyable life in her own home until the age of almost 99.

Paid family and medical leave should not be a luxury for the select few, but a necessity for all workers in Connecticut.

My family was able to care for my grandmother during this critical time in her life because my father is self-employed, and my mother’s employment allowed for a flexible schedule. The majority of workers in Connecticut do not have this option.  Without paid family and medical leave, workers are often forced to choose between financial security and caring for a loved one in a time of great need. Financial security is a necessity: workers should not be stressed about their ability to pay bills and provide food for their family while also caring for a family member. This is an unfair and unethical decision to force upon the citizens of Connecticut.

Paid family and medical leave is also important to me as a young woman with hopes to start a family in the future. Many women are currently forced to make the impossible choice between their own health and bonding with their child or financial security- a choice I hope I will never have to make. Without access to paid leave, 1 in 4 new moms return to work just 2 weeks after giving birth. The early stages of a child’s life are extremely important for development and parental bonding. Additionally, access to paid leave is critical to a new mother’s health and addressing any complications that may arise from pregnancy or giving birth. New parents should not have the added stress of not having access to paid family leave during what’s supposed to be a joyous and life-changing time in their lives.

Paid family and medical leave is critical to me as a future worker with a chronic illness. When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that effects the endocrine system and weakens my immune system. Although I live a normal lifestyle, I know that I will have to balance my health and professional career throughout my lifetime. As a future member of the workforce, a paid family and medical leave program would make Connecticut a much more appealing state to live and would support young workers like me live successful and healthy lives.

Very soon, I’ll leave Connecticut to go to college. Access to paid family and medical leave will be a significant factor in my decision of where to live after my education, especially since nearly all of our neighboring states have either passed or are very close to passing similar policies. I hope that by the time I become a worker and start a family, Connecticut will support its citizens and provide paid family leave to the thousands of workers who need and desire paid family and medical leave.

By: Piper Gibson, CWEALF Intern

Piper for PFL