Andrea Barton Reeves: Connecticut Leads on Paid Family and Medical Leave
By: Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO, Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority
June 13, 2022
This article appeared on eurweb.com.
While we often don’t realize it, it’s not always the more significant factors that make it harder to lessen a vast disparity. The smaller things we don’t have access to often largely contribute to the difference. For example, 77% of workers nationwide don’t have access to a defined paid family leave or caregiving benefit.
Imagine suffering an injury, caring for a parent battling an illness, or recovering from giving birth with every day you spend away from work widening the gap between you and financial stability.
As the inaugural CEO of Connecticut Paid Leave, my team and I have worked for the past two-and-a-half years to bring the people of Connecticut a paid family and medical leave program that will financially support them through significant life events. While the program has been used in every county in our state and for every qualifying reason available, it is also clear that Connecticut’s Black and Brown communities are in extreme need of access to this kind of income relief. In Connecticut, 57% of Black households and 63% of Hispanic households live below the ALICE* threshold, meaning above the Federal Poverty Line but below the state’s basic cost of living threshold.
Since childhood, I’ve felt a calling to help and protect underserved communities. Throughout my career, from my time as a private practice attorney to the CEO of a non-profit organization serving adults with intellectual disabilities, my life’s work has been to make a difference for those who don’t have as many opportunities as I do. At the helm of the CT Paid Leave Authority, I can do incredibly fulfilling work, making a real, positive impact for Connecticut employees, especially people of color who desperately need the option of paid leave to take care of themselves and their families.
At CT Paid Leave, we offer income replacement benefits for Connecticut employees who need to take time away from work to address personal and family health needs. Childbirth or major surgery might be common scenarios that come to mind when thinking about paid leave benefits. However, CT Paid Leave also supports survivors of domestic violence, foster and adoptive families who are bonding with their new children, or even individuals taking the time they need to recover from a mental health crisis.