Pediatricians join push for paid family leave

Two major pediatric associations are joining the push for Congress to approve paid leave for new parents.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics, a group of 60,000 pediatricians, and the Pediatric Policy Council, a group of pediatric academic organizations, on Friday called on Congress to pass the FAMILY Act, which was introduced earlier this week. 

The bill, which has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandNow is the time for a US data protection agency The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate Ginsburg, accepting lifetime achievement award, urges working fathers to take an active role in kids' lives MORE (D-N.Y.), would provide for 12 weeks of leave for people who are sick or are caring for a child.

“Both scientific research and our clinical experience tell us that children need their parents at critical times in their lives, whether in the important weeks following birth or when recovering from serious illness,” Dr. Mark Schuster, president of the Academic Pediatric Association, said in a statement.

“Too many parents simply can’t afford to lose wages to care for their children’s health. The FAMILY Act offers a potential solution to a vast problem.”

The bill would be funded by employee and employer contributions of two-tenths of 1 percent of wages each. Gillibrand's office says that would make the program self-sufficient, with no impact on the federal deficit.

The issue has been a focus of top Democrats recently. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' The problem with Trump's Middle East peace plan Trump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, if she makes a bid, has been touting the need for paid family leave in speeches and is likely to make the issue a central part of her campaign.

A law signed under former President Clinton provides 12 weeks of leave at companies with more than 50 employees, but it is unpaid. 

“When a young parent needs time to care for a newborn child — it should never come down to an outdated policy that lets her boss decide how long it will take — and decide the fate of her career and her future along with it,” Gillibrand said in a statement.