No More Impossible Choices: Mainers like Aranka and Colby Need Paid Family & Medical Leave
Even before COVID-19, too many working Mainers have found themselves on the brink, forced to make impossible decisions in order to care for the ones they love the most.
This pandemic has put into stark relief how crucial it is for families to be able to take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones should they fall sick or need extra care. But Maine’s current family medical leave policy is unpaid, which means many families are forced to choose between their family or their job.
Aranka and her son Colby are one of those families.
When Colby was born, he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects development. “By the time he was four years old, I had gone through 300 or so meetings between medical providers, special service providers, and educational providers,” said Aranka.
In order to take care of her son, Aranka could not continue working.
“The ability to support myself independently was over,” said Aranka. “The supports and systems are not in place to enable me to continue working and have the needs of my son met.”
The current lack of a statewide Paid Family & Medical Leave policy means working Mainers are forced to take unpaid leave, come to work when they or their family are ill, or, in Aranka’s case, give up their jobs in order to care for their loved ones.
“If we don’t have the support we need to care for our children with disabilities, then we are relegated to social services when most of us want to work,” said Aranka.
Right now, our current policy that’s in place is not enough. Families like Aranka and Colby shouldn’t be struggling to stay afloat, forced to give up work because they need time off for care.
It’s time to ensure that Maine’s working families can take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones, without risking their paycheck.