May 19th, 2019 by Jane Noble
The first few months of a child’s life can have an influence on its future mental health. The baby/mother bond begins as soon as the embryo starts to develop in the womb. The baby experiences life through the mama, hearing the sounds of her body and the steady beat of her heart. By about 26 weeks, the baby starts to react to noises outside the mother’s body and may be soothed by her voice. Fathers and siblings may start the bonding process in many simple ways - talking and singing to the baby, massaging the mother’s belly, feeling the baby kicking.
But there is nothing quite like the moment when the baby enters the world and becomes a tangible part of the family. The first few weeks and months of a newborn’s life are crucial and can have an influence on the child’s future mental wellbeing. Too often parents do not have have enough time to fully bond and adjust to life with their new addition before having to go back to work.
On May 16, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom convened a Paid Family Leave Task Force for their first in a series of meetings. The Task Force is intended to design a policy and funding roadmap to achieving the Governor’s vision for providing all California newborns with six months of bonding time with their parents. Erin Gabel, Deputy Director of External and Governmental Affairs for First 5 California, was appointed to the newly-established Paid Family Leave Task Force. Erin sees Paid Family Leave during those vitally important first months of a baby’s life, as a developmental necessity.
Governor Newsom has appointed a diverse group of representatives from across the state, including members of the business, legal, policy, science, and early learning communities, to put their collective expertise together and design real options to meet the family leave needs of newborns, employers, employees, and their families. The Governor’s goal is to leverage Paid Family Leave to reap greater lifetime benefits for all.
The Task Force will examine California’s nation-leading Paid Family Leave Program and develop options to increase leave access, provide better job protections, and to expand the length of coverage for California’s workers. Studies have shown that paid family leave allows parents and caregivers to bond with their newborns, and set our littlest community members on a course for better health and greater success in life.
“Having a Governor who understands the brain science and how Paid Family Leave plays a role in allowing parents the precious time to Talk. Read. Sing. ®with their babies, is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Ms. Gabel. “Children and families thriving will help lift all of Californians.”
The Task Force is due to provide its recommendations to the Governor by the end of 2019.