October 27th, 2016

Sue Supports Young Families

This coming November, we select the next leader of our state. As a lifelong Vermonter, who’s working hard to raise my young family here, I’m supporting Sue Minter for Governor.

My husband and I met in high school, attended college together, and now live in central Vermont, just miles from our parents’ homes. Last year, we celebrated the birth of our daughter and started a whole new chapter in our lives – parenthood. No matter how much you prepare, the joy and work of welcoming a newborn home is huge.

Sue recognizes the need to support young families – and make sure our state is a place where they can thrive. Her proposal for paid family leave is just one aspect of that, but one that hits home for my family.

When our little one was born last year we faced a difficult decision. Should I quit my job, and stay home with the babe? Or should we send her to childcare after just a few short weeks at home?

We chose the first option, but it was a real struggle to live off of one income. Had I been offered paid family leave, we wouldn’t have had to choose between my job and my family.

The CDC’s latest data on infant mortality counts 5.96 infant deaths in 1000 live births in our country.

Most developed nations come in at half that rate – and there’s strong evidence to suggest that paid family leave is part of why. In fact, a recent study showed paid maternity leave could reduce infant deaths by 10%.

Meanwhile, the US is the only developed nation not to provide paid family leave. Most developed nations ensure mothers can spend 10-20 weeks home with their newborns; some even more.

As a maternal-child health nurse, I spend a lot of time with young families. I see many families face great financial barriers when they bring their little ones home. Many mothers are forced to go back to work after just a few weeks. Can you imagine handing your little 2- or 3-week old infant to a daycare provider each day, if you’re lucky enough to find a trusted place among the very few who are certified to care for our littlest babies?

Healthy bonding and breastfeeding relationships are essential intimacies that create steadiness and confidence in a young family and the foundation for healthy, happy kiddos. Detaching mother and infant too early is stressful for all.

Vermont families shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and caring for and getting to know their newborns. Sue Minter’s plan to make that choice a thing of the past with paid family leave is right for Vermont, and I’m proud to support her for Governor.

Krysta Zabriskie

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