The Governor’s announcement yesterday that she is suspending development of the computer system for Washington’s Family Leave Insurance (FLI) program is extremely disappointing.
This time of economic distress is precisely when our state’s struggling families need programs like this the most. FLI was slated to begin in October 2009, assuring all new parents in our state they could take at least five weeks off with a modest payment of $250/week to care for their newborn or newly adopted child.
Without the computer system ready to go, it seems unlikely that the program can start on time. That means thousands of babies will be denied the chance to bond with their parents – threatening their health in both the short and long run, and limiting their chance for full and healthy social and intellectual development.
Balancing next year’s hypothetical budget on the backs of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens is bad policy. The Family Leave Coalition stands ready to work with the Governor to find ways to fully fund family leave, as well as other high priority programs.
Governor Gregoire should restore start-up funding for the Family Leave Insurance program immediately, and fulfill the promise made to Washington’s working families.