Meet Larisa Casillas
"I had a baby in May 2012. I used 6 weeks of disability and 6 weeks of Paid Family Leave. This program was really helpful because it allowed me time to spend completely focused on my baby, and that was wonderful. But also, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area—an extremely expensive place to live—and it was really important for me to have that income so that I could spend time with my new baby without worrying about how I was going to make ends meet.
"My partner, on the other hand, worked for a large tech company and he was discouraged from taking time off. He couldn't take more than two weeks off, and he couldn't take advantage of Paid Family Leave. It was really frustrating for him and he felt like he missed out on a lot.
"One thing I've learned from my family's experience is that it's important for people to learn more about their rights under Paid Family Leave. Most of us pay into this program and should be participating at a higher rate. We tend to underestimate the importance of being home with your child during those first few weeks, but it is necessary to the long-term well-being of the child and parents—especially because it is during this time that new parents can get support from other parents and family.
"New parents shouldn't have to worry about managing work on top of all of the stress of bringing a new family member into your home. We need time to figure it all out."
--Larisa Casillas, San Francisco, CA