NPR

Politics In Real Life: Paid Family Leave A Big Concern, Not A Top Campaign Issue

Nancy Glynn, 27, called it her “NICU diet,” but it wasn’t about weight loss. It was about financial survival.

When her son, Hunter, was born two months premature, he was 2 pounds, 10 ounces and fighting for his life. Hunter was in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, for more than a month.

The “diet” comes in because Glynn, a waitress, couldn’t afford to buy meals in the hospital cafeteria. In large part, that’s because that whole time she was out of work, she wasn’t getting paid, and — because Hunter was premature — she and her husband hadn’t had as much time to save up …

Paid Family Leave has become a frequent topic of conversation — at the playground, in corporate human resources offices and in state and local government. On the campaign trail, it easily gets lost. That’s despite broad public support and candidates on both sides of the aisle who have raised proposals for it.

Public support for a federal paid family leave program is widespread and bipartisan. A poll taken earlier this year for the National Partnership for Women and Families found 76 percent of likely 2016 voters say they favor the creation of a federal fund for paid family and medical leave. But it doesn’t rank on lists of top issues weighing on the minds of voters.

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