Why People of Faith Are Speaking Up About Paid Family Leave

 

By Kelsey Dallas

August 8, 2018

Read the full story in Deseret News.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Charlie Camosy struggles to keep his 2-month-old son calm as he talks on the phone. His responses are interrupted by short asides to the baby, who isn't happy about his dad's divided attention.

"It's OK. You're OK," Camosy says, then continues to share how paid family leave changed his life.

Two years ago, he and his wife adopted three children from the Philippines. Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York, was able to take a semester of paid leave to help get them settled. This fall, he'll take another semester off to spend time with the new baby.

"It's hard to imagine what it would have been like to help three immigrant children adjust to a new life here if my wife and I were both at work full time," he says.

Camosy's support for paid family leave doesn't stem only from his positive personal experience. He feels called to advocate for it because of his Catholic faith, which teaches that both work and parenthood are important pursuits.

Congress is currently considering paid leave bills from Republicans and Democrats, as lawmakers respond to growing interest in the issue from the White House and across the country. Camosy and others involved in a new report from The Center for Public Justice, a nonpartisan Christian organization, want people of faith to play a bigger role in this policy debate.

"The conversation about federal policy is oriented around money. Where is the money going to come from? How much will this policy cost? We'd love Christians to bring the moral and ethical and humanizing part of the conversation into focus and ask what a flourishing society looks like," said Katelyn Beaty, one of the report's co-authors.

Policy roadblocks

The Center for Public Justice's report, titled "Time to Flourish: Protecting Families' Time for Work and Care," depicts an American workplace where working parents are overwhelmed by conflicts between job and family responsibilities, and yet few have the resources to negotiate a healthier balance.

Around 15 percent of Americans have access to paid family leave through their employers, and others can use saved vacation or sick days or take unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act, according to Time to Flourish. But financial pressures often bring people back to work before they're ready to leave their baby or have completely healed from giving birth.

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Chelsea Maxwell