With only three states (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) mandating paid family leave, expecting parents are turning to crowdsourcing platforms to fund maternity and paternity leave after the birth of a child.
ABC News interviewed first-time mother, Grace Zandstra, who used GoFundMe to finance her maternity leave.
“Officially, legally, I don’t qualify for FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act],” Zandstra said in the interview. “My company has been awesome. I let them know I was pregnant and they said, ‘You’ll take as much time as your doctor needs you to take. We won’t take you back until you’re all clear, but your job will definitely be here.”
Zandstra took six weeks leave time after her daughter was born on the advice of her doctor. As bills started piling up, she launched a campaign to crowdsource $3,000.
Plumfund is a crowdfunding site for medical bill funding. New parents are using the site to fund both maternity-related medical expenses and time off to spend with their newborns.
Sara Margulis, Plumfund’s CEO and co-founder, spoke with ABC about the trend. She told ABC News that out of 5,000 baby-related campaigns on the platform last year, 250 were to fund maternity leave. These campaigns raised an average amount of about $350.
“Being able to give the gift of time to parents and their newborns is really enticing, and friends and family are financially backing couples in doing this,” Margulis said to ABC News.
“The trend of maternity crowdfunding is pointing to a need for better federal paid maternity leave policies that help women take the necessary time they need when they have a child,” she said.
Pew Research notes out of 41 countries, the United States is the only one not to mandate paid maternity leave. Some countries including Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway, and Slovakia offer a year’s paid maternity leave.