Family Leave Insurance: Before the Smoke Settles
Feb 14, 2013
"Holy smokes!" is how James Heckman, a Nobel prize winner in economics, enthusiastically reacted to the details of President Obama's early childhood education plans. Heckman's shout-out makes sense. One doesn't need to be a Nobel laureate nor an economist to see how this early education agenda could make a huge difference in providing opportunity to many more children. While the agenda is bold and multi-faceted and deserves high marks, it also missed a vital opportunity by neglecting to address paid family leave.
The early education agenda has three main parts:
■ Guaranteed pre-Kindergarten. Accomplished through a state-federal partnership and available to 4-year-olds in families at or below 200 percent of the poverty line,
■ Expanded Early Head Start. Funds would be awarded to expand services to vulnerable children ages 0 to 3; the goal is full-day, comprehensive services that meet the needs of working families.
■ Expanded home visiting programs for new parents. Funds would expand voluntary family participation in regular home visits from nurses from pregnancy through the child's second birthday;