A Better Balance is proud to announce the release of two new video portraits from This Is My Family, our joint campaign with Family Values @ Work and our partners in the Family Justice Network that was created to share powerful stories of love and caregiving and highlight the need for inclusive definitions of family in paid leave policies.
One of these two new videos tells the stories of Dannie and Yvette. “I am her chosen child, she is my chosen mom,” says Dannie of their relationship. Dannie needed care after experiencing complications following gender confirmation surgery. However, Yvette wasn’t able to access paid leave to care for Dannie due to family definitions excluding chosen family, a barrier faced by many families who urgently need these protections. “She can’t take time off work because I’m not blood family,” he explains.
The second video portrait tells the story of Magally and her family’s experience caring for her brother, who suffered a spinal cord injury after a car accident in 2017. Magally and her family cared for her brother in shifts, but she did not have access to paid leave that covered caring for a sibling, resulting in stress and economic hardship. “My brother meant the world to me,” she says. “We need to expand our notion of care, and of family.”
Both of these stories emphasize that many working individuals lack supportive policies to ensure they can care for loved ones–and existing laws and policies are too often inaccessible to families that may not fit into a specific mold. Through our work, we know that families come in many different shapes and sizes, and until our paid leave laws recognize all families, too many workers are forced to choose between their economic security and caring for those closest to them.
We have seen heartening progress towards expanding family definitions in state paid leave laws, such as in New York, where an expansion to the state’s paid family leave program to include siblings as covered relatives recently went into effect. Additionally, many states throughout the country, from New Mexico to Minnesota, are considering bills that would give workers the right to paid leave to care for all of their loved ones. As we continue to fight to extend these protections to all families, we are honored to share the stories and lived expertise of people like Magally, Dannie, and Yvette in working towards a future where all families can access the supports they need.