Psychologists Advocate for Family-friendly Federal Legislation

APA divisions 9 and 27 collaborate to empower their members

It was a successful Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill for 50 psychologists and graduate students on Aug. 6, 2014, who met with their senators and representatives to discuss the Family Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act of 2013 (H.R. 3712/S. 1810). The daylong event was organized by a coalition of psychological associations, including APA, Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) and Div. 27 (Society for Community Research and Action). The students and professors spent the morning learning about the FAMILY Act and received training on how to advocate effectively on the hill. In the afternoon, they visited their representatives and senators to discuss the legislation.

Under current law, most workers can take up to 12 weeks off to care for a newborn or sick family member without fear of being fired. Unfortunately, only a fraction of workers are lucky enough to get paid during that period.

The FAMILY Act would create an insurance program that allows parents or caregivers to take up to 12 weeks off and receive 60 percent of their salary during those weeks, funded through very small contributions from employers and employees. State-level programs like this have already been successfully adopted in California and elsewhere. The U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn’t provide this benefit, and yet, research shows that it’s more than just a convenience: Psychological research has established how important those first weeks of bonding are for the well-being of both children and parents.

You can show your support for the FAMILY Act. Send an action alert to your members of Congress.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.