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Trump attorneys go to court to attempt to block oversight of the president’s finances. Also, on the Tuesday rundown: the New York plastic bag ban becomes law. Plus, a new poll finds Coloradans support protecting wildlife corridors.

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Advocates: Arkansas Needs Family Leave Policy

Advocates say a family leave policy is crucial to the well being of Arkansas' children. (Sierra Neely)
Advocates say a family leave policy is crucial to the well being of Arkansas' children. (Sierra Neely)
August 8, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A state-by-state analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families gives Arkansas a C-minus for workplace protections such as family leave.

But there's a bill in the works that would give maternity leave to state employees.

Eleanor Wheeler, a senior policy analyst for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, hopes the bill will pass this year. It failed last session.

Wheeler says parents need time at home after an infant is born.

"That's the time where your expenses aren't going down, they're going up dramatically,” she states. “So, it's really tough, especially for low-income families, and unfortunately what a lot of them end up doing is just going right back to work very soon after having the baby."

In Arkansas, 68 percent of children live in families where all adults work, and there are 636,000 women working in the state. That's 47 percent of the workforce.

This month marks the 23rd anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which created unpaid leave for a new parent or for medical emergency.

Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, says some states have added measures that improve upon the federal statute.

"But a host of states, more than half, have done very little or nothing to improve the experiences and the supports that working families have at the time when a new child joins their family," she points out.

Twelve states were given grades of F for failing to enact any additional workplace policies to help families.

Around the world, 183 countries guarantee paid maternity leave, and 79 have paid leave for fathers as well.

Shabo says the evidence shows that enacting a national paid family leave program benefits everyone.

"It would boost our GDP, it would boost women's labor force participation, it would create greater gender equality and it would reduce economic inequality, as well as difference in opportunities for children and children's health going forward," she states.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR