Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave

Promoting uptake of paid family leave for time to bond with baby.

One quarter of American mothers return to work a mere two weeks after delivering a baby. But times are changing. In 2020, Washington was the fifth state in the nation to implement a Paid Family and Medical Leave Program (PFML). PFML represents a major extension of the social safety net.

PFML is aligned with Perigee Fund’s interest in policies and programs that support pregnant and parenting families with more time, money, and care. It enables birthing people to heal from delivery, receive postpartum medical and mental health care, and supports early bonding — all with the economic security of a paycheck. Studies have found that PFML is associated with decreased risk for postpartum depression and better child health and development outcomes. In Washington, the program’s expanded definition of family enables fathers, grandparents, and others who regularly reside in the home to participate in paid bonding and caregiving.

Experience from the states that went before Washington portend that, without concerted efforts, families furthest from equity (e.g., immigrants, people with limited English proficiency, those in lower wage jobs) will face real and perceived barriers to understanding and using the program that they pay into. To promote the launch and a more equitable uptake of of PFML in Washington state among workers who have historically lacked access to paid family leave, Perigee Fund has made complementary investments:

  • Outreach and enrollment grants to over two dozen community-based organizations in Pierce and Yakima Counties
  • Traditional and social media campaigns in Pierce and Yakima counties (Brink Communications for Good)
  • Health care provider outreach and education focused on Pierce and Yakima Counties with some statewide dissemination (Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Policy advocacy (Economic Opportunity Institute, MomsRising)
  • Data analysis and evaluation in partnership with Pivotal Ventures (Employment Security Department, University of Washington)

Learn more about what philanthropic funders, including Perigee, are doing to promote access to PFML programs.


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