When it comes to paid parental leave, the United States is way behind the rest of the developed world. Currently, only three states — California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — in the entire country have paid policies in place for new parents. That being the case, many soon-to-be mothers and fathers have become desperate to find the financial support that will allow them to afford one of the most joyous moments of their lives and have turned to raising that money through various online platforms. A new piece by The Atlantic explored the growing and troubling trend behind parents using crowdfunding to cover unpaid family leave because, for many, there’s no other way to survive this time without some form of donated income.
As The Atlantic's Bourree Lam reported this week, a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of Americans support paid leave and most say that employers should cover the costs instead of the government. But while most American workers agree that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done with paid leave in the United States, they are split on whether the government should require employers to provide this benefit to their workers.
Regardless of these opinions, this type of change isn’t likely going to occur on its own anytime soon, leading many expectant parents to seek financial support elsewhere, such as in cash maternity funds on registry websites like Babylist.
Natalie Gordon, the founder and CEO of Babylist, told The Atlantic that the site has seen over 200 "leave funds" created by users since last May, with the average cash goal set at $2,000. But expectant mothers on Babylist have reportedly raised far less than their goals.
Babylist isn't the only site soon-to-be parents are using. They're also heading to crowdfunding websites like Honeyfund, Plumfund, and GoFundMe to pay for maternity leave. It's an unsettling reality, but it's a logical route to take considering that people use crowdfunding sites to pay for things like funeral expenses, unexpected medical bills, or even getting a new company off the ground. Newlyweds can also opt for a honeymoon registry or ask for cash gifts instead of traditional wedding china.
"I had to think creatively… people are crowdfunding everything else, why can’t I do this?" Jennifer Warren Baker, a piano teacher in Virginia told Todaystresso last April.
Asking for money instead of material gifts (like a crib, cute onesies, or pacifiers) is not a new thing, but raising it to afford the first few months after your little one arrives is. First-time parents are already concerned about so many things as they enter this chapter of their lives and finding a way to pay for these expenses is a big stressor.
Indeed, this is a troubling trend and it highlights the nation's poor paid leave policy, as well as the lengths expectant parents must go to make sure they can spend these precious moments with their children. Hopefully, and with any sort of luck, that will change soon.