Fall can be a challenging time for any parent. Summer is over. Kids’ routines are changing. Flu season is around the corner. For parents who cannot earn paid sick days, these changes can also mark the beginning of a school year of worrying about what will happen if their child gets sick.
That’s because, for a parent without paid sick days, one case of the flu can force an impossible choice between sending a sick child to school – where she or he may get sicker, spread illness and struggle academically – and risking their jobs and financial security by taking unpaid time off.
More than 43 million private sector workers in the United States cannot earn paid sick days they can use for themselves. Many more don’t have any they can use to care for a sick child or family member. The consequences for the health and well-being of children, families and communities are significant.
And that’s why back-to-school season – a time when attention to what’s best for kids and schools is high – is a good time to raise awareness of the impact that a lack of paid sick days can have on children, schools and entire communities. This new fact sheet and back-to-school toolkit should help.
The toolkit is a comprehensive resource for parents, teachers and advocates. It includes state-specific data, sample letters to the editor and to elected officials, a customizable fact sheet, and resources for school gatherings. Each document makes a strong case for a national paid sick days standard.
So, take advantage of the coming days and weeks. Urge lawmakers at all levels to prioritize paid sick days. And be sure to tell members of Congress just how important the federal paid sick days proposal, the Healthy Families Act, is for America’s kids, schools and communities.