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Family Leave for All: A Dad’s Story

The importance of high-quality, affordable child care affects everyone. Child Care Aware® of America is pleased to share with you our sixth story in Faces of Child Care, an eight-week series of stories from individuals of various walks of life who are affected by child care.

Read Travis’ story to learn more about our series and how you can help Child Care Aware® of America ensure that every family in America has access to high-quality, affordable child care.

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IMG_0173Guest blog post by Travis Kirkpatrick, Father of Madison (10) and Connor (5), Oklahoma City, OK

The day I became a husband and father, I became a better man. I LOVE being a dad. My children are pure joy.

When our daughter Madison was born, I took three weeks of paid family leave and then felt pressure to return to work. We were blessed to find an amazing child care provider for Madison, but I wished I’d had the opportunity to spend more time bonding with her during infancy. Five years later, when we discovered my wife Daryn was pregnant again, I vowed to do things differently.

I work in law enforcement and, although my employer offers 12 weeks of paid family leave, my supervisor didn’t understand why, as a male, I wanted to take the full 12 weeks to bond with my son Connor after his birth.

It was important to me. I wanted to experience firsthand the bonding that happens when you take the opportunity to just be a parent. Too many parents do not have this opportunity because they are faced with financial pressures and immediately return to work in order to provide for their family.

Daryn and I work for the state of Oklahoma, and have 12 weeks of paid family leave. We decided to stagger our time—she took six weeks off, I took 12 weeks, and then she took an additional six weeks. This ended up being a greater blessing than we thought because my son was born with unexpected medical complications. For the first half of my son’s life, he had his parents with him every day.

If we did not have paid family leave, there is no way we could have afforded the financial penalty of taking this precious time with our son. It would have been overwhelmingly hard for us financially. We would have missed those amazing moments as our son developed that became priceless memories. Most importantly, it was great to enjoy the blessing that is a child without the additional stressors that come with having to afford child care costs for two children.

When it was time to return to work, we were confident that we had identified an incredible child care provider. Having access to affordable, high-quality child care is truly a blessing. It has relieved a great amount of stress for both Daryn and me because we know our children are safely cared for. This knowledge allows us to maximize efficiency and effectiveness at work. We are better employees because of our experience.

I want quality, affordable child care for all families.

Child Care Aware® of America recommends paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) be expanded to cover all workers. Current law provides unpaid leave for those who work in companies of 50 or more employees.

As we approach Father’s Day, Child Care Aware® of America solutes Travis and all fathers. Fathers are making a difference in the lives of children and families every day. When you support Child Care Aware® of America, it’s an investment in America’s future. Your donation supports our public policy and advocacy efforts toward affordable, high-quality child care for all.

Every day Travis invests in children and families. Make your investment in America’s future.

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