Family Leave Insurance: Before the Smoke Settles

Feb 14, 2013

By Jodie Levin-Epstein

"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:

\xe2--\xa0 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,

 \xe2--\xa0 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.

 \xe2--\xa0 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;

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