NYS Alzheimer’s Association Chapters Endorse Governor Cuomo’s Proposal for Paid Family Leave


All seven chapters of the NYS Alzheimer’s Association sign on to the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign and urge passage of Governor’s proposal for nation’s most robust paid family leave policy.

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Governor Cuomo with Vice President Biden.

Photo by: Strong Families, Strong NY

March 17, 2016 - New York, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Coalition of New York State Alzheimer’s Association Chapters has endorsed his proposal for paid family leave. The proposal, which would be funded with nominal employee contributions, would help New Yorkers maintain their financial security while caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. By providing up to 12 weeks of benefits, it would be the most robust policy in the nation.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, fatal disease without an effective prevention, treatment or cure. Today, there are approximately 380,000 New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. By 2025, approximately 460,000 New Yorkers will suffer from this disease – a 21 percent increase. Alzheimer’s can wreak havoc on a family as it presents countless physical, emotional, and financial challenges. With the support of paid family leave, working caregivers can take the time they need to help their loved ones get their legal, financial and health care plans in order. 
“Alzheimer’s can have a devastating impact on patients and caregivers alike, but access to paid leave can dramatically improve a family’s quality of life when a loved one is faced with this terrible disease,” said Governor Cuomo. “I’m proud to be fighting for the nation’s strongest paid family leave policy, because working families deserve to be able to support their loved ones during times of great need without sacrificing their financial stability. It’s time for New York to set an example for the country and pass a strong, 12-week paid family leave policy this year.” 
Elizabeth Smith-Boivin, Coalition President and Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York said: “A strong paid family leave program would make a positive difference to people throughout across New York State and in New York City. As more New Yorkers continue to provide care for aging parents and loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, we must act to ensure that they can take the time they need to plan for the future, and support those they love without putting themselves at financial risk. That’s why we support Governor Cuomo’s proposal for paid family leave, and I urge state lawmakers to pass it this year.”
While Alzheimer’s is often cited as our nation’s most under-recognized health crisis, the Coalition is the leader in providing support and education to New York families facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The Coalition is comprised of seven regional Alzheimer’s Association chapters, which provide support, education and safety services to individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families and a 24 hour Helpline: 1-800-272-3900. Chapters include: Western New York, Rochester and Finger Lakes, Central New York, Northeastern New York, Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island. 
In addition to the significant health care issues associated with dementia, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease experience three times as many hospitalizationsas those without Alzheimer’s. 
Leilani Pelletier, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Western New York Chapter, and Vice President of the Coalition, citing the relief that working family caregivers will be afforded so they may take the time they need to arrange for their loved one’s needs, said, “This proposal ensures family members can help get their loved ones’ legal, financial, and health care planning in order to avoid crises down the road.”
Teresa Galbier, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Rochester/Finger Lakes Chapter, and Coalition Treasurer said: “Alzheimer’s disease affects all people, without regard to ethnicity, socioeconomic class or geography. This proposal supports caregivers across the working spectrum – from the 68 year old grocery store clerk to the 25 year old trainer. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages care consultations for families of those newly diagnosed in every circumstance. Paid family leave enable families to take the time to plan without fearing potential job loss.”
Cathy James, CEO of Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York, said: “Our constituents often face the heartbreaking choice to either leave their job for several weeks or months on end to care for their loved one with dementia or leave their ailing family member at home to go to work. Our work at the Alzheimer’s Association is focused on care and support to avoid crisis situations. Paid family leave offers another critical tool to properly plan for the Alzheimer’s journey with information, resources and peace of mind.”
Doug Davidson, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Long Island, said: “When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, their closest loved ones can instantly be faced with seemingly impossible, and innumerable, choices for the future. The burden that caregivers shoulder in order to support parents of other relatives facing this disease can be devastating – physically, emotionally, and financially. Paid family leave is a crucial and much-needed tool to help those people support their loved ones throughout this journey, and I am proud to see Governor Cuomo fighting for a policy would help remove the stigma that too many caregivers bear. Enacting paid family leave will put New York at the front of the nation in terms of supporting working families and be tremendously beneficial to family caregivers across Long Island.”
Jane Ginsburg, Executive Director for the Coalition of New York State Alzheimer’s Association Chapters, said: “We are proud to partner with Governor Cuomo on this important initiative. He’s a true caregiver advocate.”
87 percent of American workers do not have access to paid family leave. The 13 percent who have access through their employers are more likely to have well-paying jobs. Federal law provides only for unpaid family leave for approximately 60 percent of workers, but many who are covered by FMLA live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to take unpaid leave: our system is failing poor working families.
The Governor’s twelve week proposed paid leave program will be the most robust program in the nation, because it provides double the length of paid leave than provided by any other State program, as well as a high benefit amount. Specifically, after a short ramp-up period, workers will be entitled to 67 percent of their average weekly wage, with a maximum of 67 percent of the State’s average weekly wage, which is estimated to be in excess of $1,000 per week by 2021. This program will ensure that workers will be able to afford to take the time they need to provide care to sick relatives.

Paid family leave helps women, minorities, and low-income workers
For families living paycheck to paycheck, taking extended periods of unpaid leave is often unfeasible. Statewide, more than 39 percent of single mothers with at least one child under the age of 18 lived below the poverty line. Additionally, women and minorities are each overrepresented in both state and national poverty rates. 
It is well established that paid family leave leads to healthier babies. An expansion of family leave has been found to increase birth weight, decrease premature birth, and lead to a substantial decrease in infant mortality. This is particularly important to reducing racial and ethnic disparities. In 2012, the mortality rate for white infants was just 3.7 for every thousand live births – but it was 5.27 for Hispanic infants and 8.96 for black infants. 
California’s paid family leave program more than doubled the overall use of maternity leave – increasing it from around three to six or seven weeks for the typical new mother. The program significantly reduced disparities in who could take advantage of family leave, leading to an increase (in leave taking) of threefold for non-college educated mothers, fivefold for single mothers, and sevenfold for racial minorities. 
Paid family leave helps reduce demands on public assistance 
Loss of income for New Yorkers who have to care for a sick family member or a new baby can lead to serious hardship, which can lead to increased demand for state support, funded by taxpayers. Enacting paid family funded by nominal employee payroll deductions is smart policy because it can help more working families make ends meet without public assistance. 
Paid family leave helps businesses
Providing paid family leave also has numerous benefits for employers. Research from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that paid family leave helps businesses retain workers and avoid turnover – which ultimately helps reduce recruitment and training costs. Having access to paid family leave can also boost productivity, engagement, and loyalty among a business’ employees. 
Paid family leave strengthens the economy
Increasing access to paid family leave will result in a stronger economy and workforce. When working parents or caregivers are able to remain in the workforce while tending to children or sick loved ones, they are also more likely to continue progressing in their careers and increasing their wages over time. This in turn yields greater support for their families, greater economy activity in their communities, and a more vibrant workforce overall. Additionally, paid family leave helps address the gaps in opportunity faced by low-income, minority and less educated workers. 
Paid family leave has widespread public support
In a recent poll conducted by the Siena Institute, the vast majority – 80 percent – of New Yorkers polled supported providing 12 weeks of paid family leave. That support crossed party lines, with 87 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of Republicans, and 74 percent of Independents voicing support. The policy is also received broad geographic support, winning the approval of 85 percent of New York City respondents, 77 percent of those in the downstate suburbs, and 76 percent of those in Upstate New York. Additionally, in a business survey after California’s paid family leave policy had been in effect for five years, 91 percent of employers reported the effect of the policy was either not noticeable or positive.
For more information on the Governor’s proposal and the Strong Families, Strong New York campaign, please visit here.