WREN Testimony to the House General Government Legislative Subcommittee in Support of Paid Leave for Educators H.3908
by WREN Staff on Mar 28, 2023
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. WREN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a mission to build a movement to advance the health, economic well-being, and rights of South Carolina’s women, girls, gender expansive people and their families. We have more than 40,000 people in our statewide network, and we work with elected officials, advocates, nonprofit partners, and businesses to improve equity and opportunity in our state.
Paid family leave is crucial to supporting working families’ economic security, improving gender equity in the workplace, and improving recruitment and retention of our public education workforce. Without paid leave, parents face the impossible choice of choosing between their financial well-being, and the well-being of a new child. In the 2021 legislative session, WREN led efforts to secure South Carolina’s first parental leave legislation, guaranteeing 6 weeks of paid leave for over 55,000 state employees. This was a monumental victory for a large and important part of South Carolina’s workforce and will have benefits for generations to come. However, one of the biggest questions we heard from our community was, ‘What about teachers?’ Our teachers are invaluable to South Carolina, and they deserve this basic benefit. Passing H.3908 will be an incredible next step for improving the health and economic wellbeing of South Carolina families.
Providing paid leave improves child health outcomes:
- Children whose mothers do not return to work full time in the first 12 weeks are more likely to receive medical checkups and critical vaccinations.1
- Mothers who take at least 12 weeks of leave are also more likely to breastfeed, with provides important lasting health benefits for their children.2
Providing paid leave improves maternal health and benefits both mothers and fathers:
- For new birth mothers, having less than 12 weeks of family leave is associated with increased symptoms of postpartum depression,3 which may make it difficult to return to the workforce.
- Fathers who take longer leaves experience greater engagement in their children’s lives4; greater paternal engagement has cognitive and developmental advantages for children.5
- Providing paid leave for both parents allows new fathers to provide more support to their partners, decrease stress on the family,6 and a significantly lower likelihood to need public assistance in the year following their child’s birth.7
Paid parental leave is popular with South Carolinians:
- A recent poll of likely voters found that 90% of South Carolinians support paid leave as a legislative priority.8 This policy has overwhelming bipartisan support among voters and would make South Carolina a better place for teachers and all working families.
Paid parental leave is essential to the health of our economy, our workplaces, and our families. Providing this benefit is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do, and I encourage you to vote yes on H.3908. Thank you for your time.