Northam issues executive orders on paid parental leave, child care options for state employees

ralph northamGovernor Ralph Northam signed two executive orders Tuesday to support the state workforce on the job and at home by authorizing paid leave for new parents, and by creating the Advisory Commission on Quality Child Care to study child care and early learning options for state employees with young children.

“The steps we are taking today will support the growth of our children, help parents in managing a work-life balance, contribute to a healthier and more productive workforce, and make the government of this Commonwealth an even more attractive place to work,” said Governor Northam. “Paid parental leave and quality childcare options are critical to the health and wellbeing of children and their parents. Through these actions are hoping to set an example for other government and private sector employers and send a message to our fellow Virginians and people across the country about what kind of state we are working to build.”

Executive Order Number Twelve authorizes paid parental leave for employees of executive branch state agencies. The new benefit provides up to eight weeks of paid parental leave to enable employees to bond with a newborn, or to care for a child under the age of eighteen newly-placed for adoption, foster or custodial care. The paid leave may be used in combination with other leave benefits and will apply to both parents if both are eligible state employees.

Studies indicate that for parents to bond with new children positively impacts children’s health and development and decreases infant mortality rates. Paid parental leave benefits parents’ health, well-being, and financial stability. It also increases their likelihood of returning to the workforce.

Executive Order Number Thirteen authorizes the formation of an advisory commission to study the feasibility of providing evidence-based early care and learning programs for young children of state employees working on or around Capitol Square in Richmond. The commission will also explore the creation of similar programs for state workers in other parts of the Commonwealth, evaluate benefits related to supporting the early care and learning of employees’ children, and provide recommendations on policies that will help Virginia attract and retain talented state employees with young children.

The commission will be led by First Lady Pamela Northam, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Resources, and Administration, as well as representatives of the General Assembly, citizens as appointed by the Office of the Governor, and experts in the field of early childhood education and development.

“We recognize the role that quality early childhood care and education plays in creating opportunity for Virginia children and families, said First Lady Pamela Northam. “We see this important step as an investment in our future workforce as well as an essential support for our working families that serve the Commonwealth.”

“These two executive orders are truly a signature act of this Administration, confirming our commitment to improving the lives of Virginians,” said Secretary of Administration Keyanna Conner. “Paid parental leave is the right thing to do for our state employees, recognizes the diverse makeup of today’s families, and is available for births, adoptions, fostering, and custodial placements.  I am excited about the advisory commission, and look forward to reviewing its recommendations for better child care and learning options for the young children of state employees.”

The full text of the Executive Orders signed by Governor Northam can be found here.

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