Congress should provide parents an opportunity to care for newborn and adopted children

By Tim Head,
Opinion Contributor for "The Hill"

Strong, stable, and thriving families are the building blocks of our society. When a couple chooses to start or grow their family, they need all the support they can get.

The Economic Security for New Parents Act, proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), would provide parents with the option of taking two months off from work after the birth or adoption of a child to devote time to raising their children by deferring their Social Security benefits by only a few months.

The legislation would reduce dependency on government programs and private company paid leave and instead provide new parents with an opportunity to provide for their newborn or adopted children at no cost to taxpayers or private business. 

These days, families face increasing financial constraints that hinder their freedom to have and nurture children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has been tracking the cost of raising children since 1960, projects that for a two-parent, two-child, middle-income family, child rearing will cost upwards of $230,000 for a child through age 17.

As of 2014, 75 percent of abortions were conducted for low-income women. Families that need the most financial help don’t always have access to it. According to a Pew Research Center study, 62 percent of families with incomes of $30,000 didn’t receive pay while they were on leave after the birth of a newborn.

New parents need the freedom to care for their new children. The first three months after delivery are a critical period for newborns.Babies between 2 and 4 months of age face the highest risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Ninety percent of SIDS cases occur between 1 and 6 months of age

Yet as of March 2017, only 13 percent of private-industry employers offered their employees paid family leaveNearly a quarter of women took two weeks or less of maternity leave after giving birth. A 2016 study done by McGill University showed that infant mortality decreases by up to 13 percent with every additional month of paid leave.

New babies need their parents with them during these crucial months. Parents also need the freedom to bond with their children, and mothers in particular need time to recover from childbirth.

When mothers take 12 weeks of leave, they are less likely to experience postpartum depression. Those women are also more likely to have improved mental and physical health. Mothers are also less likely to experience postpartum depression when fathers take paid leave too.

Children with fathers who are highly involved in their lives often perform better on cognitive testsStudies have also shown that when fathers take paid leave to bond with their children, they tend to experience similar levels of oxytocin as mothers.

There is no economic or social downside to healthier and happier families. Healthier and happier families make healthier and happier employees and neighbors, who strengthen our businesses and communities.

President Trump supports the Economic Security for New Parents Act and the Senate and House should approve this legislation that strengthens American families and promotes personal responsibility.

Tim Head is the executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a grassroots public policy organization with 1.8 million members and supporters in all 50 states that works on behalf of sound public policy that reflects the Biblical principles of respect for all human life, the sanctity of marriage and family, and the rights of the poor, the alien and the marginalized in society.



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