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Report: Indiana Lacks Support For Working Parents

Bloomington Area Birth Service Clinical director Ann Marie Neeley says she hears mothers complain about the unpaid maternity leaves everyday.

A new report from an advocacy group shows Indiana is not doing a good enough job to support working parents.

The National Partnership for Women and Families gives Indiana a D- for the support available to parents who are balancing children and jobs. With California getting the highest grade of an A-, the report indicates 29 other states are more supportive than Indiana in terms of the laws relating to family and medical leave.

Indiana has a law in place that requires all employers with more than 25 employees to provide lactation room for recent mothers. But according to the report, the law is the only one in Indiana that goes beyond the standards set by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

Bloomington Area Birth Service Clinical director Ann Marie Neeley says providing paid maternity leave should be the priority for Indiana.

“Woman who don’t have paid time off, they need to go back to work a lot sooner than they are ready to go back, physically and emotionally,” Neeley says.

While Neeley believes Indiana should do whatever it can to protect working mothers, health care expert Christopher Schrader says state mandates would not be effective.

“Below a certain employment level or certain company size level no matter what your intent is, no matter how supportive you want to be, you may simply lack the means or capability to do it,” Schrader says.

Schrader instead recommends employers—not the state—come up with innovative solutions such as offering short term disability insurance that would help mothers financially for several weeks after they give birth if they are not well enough to go back to work.

“You say to businesses, what should you be doing to retain the best employees, then you are putting a competitive environment in place where people are pursuing human capital.” Schrader says.

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