Nija Phelps
By: Nija Phelps
In 2014 my husband and I quit our jobs in Indiana and moved to Michigan to care for his mother, who was struggling with diabetes and needed 24-hour care for a few months. . If we’d had access to paid family and medical leave at the time, we might have been able to provide care without leaving our homes or jobs. Three years later, she was diagnosed with cancer and she came to live with us in Connecticut, and we continued to care for her in our home.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, I was pregnant for the first time. Shortly after learning, I was pregnant, I was furloughed for about a year. When our baby came, my husband was able to take six weeks of paid family and medical leave. But after that, he was required to work in-person half of the time. We didn’t feel comfortable with the level of COVID exposure that was inevitable. We had the care of our newborn and his immuno-compromised mother, but we did what we had to do to keep his job. And he went back to work.
My family has needed comprehensive paid family and medical leave over the years. We need quality, affordable childcare for our daughter right now. As a result, these issues have brought me to action. I volunteered for a local organization fighting for care, worked to get Paid Family and Medical Leave passed in Connecticut and continued to educate voters and support candidates who will ensure that everyone has the freedom to care – I had no choice but to turn my care story into action.