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Locals react to paid family leave hearing

Sunbeam Family Services said more family leave time could benefit children who use their child care services. (KOKH/Will Maetzold)

Sunbeam Family Services said it's something it would like to see changed. Erin Engelke said more paid leave available to all workers would make it easier on families.

"For the parents to be able to feel supported and have that paid leave, to have that time with their children would, in the long term, benefit those children developmentally, mentally and emotionally," Engelke said.

As an organization that serves mostly low-income families, Engelke said the flexibility of paid leave would greatly benefit these families.

"There's a bit of ripple effect," Engelke said. "If they lose a paycheck because they're home with a sick child, there's obviously not enough resources to feed their family, to be able to take care of their family financially."

Edmond mother Ali Dodd was at the hearing of the subcommittee on social security, pensions and family policy in Washington D.C. She has been pushing for changes to laws on family leave since her 11-week-old son Shepard died in daycare in 2015.

"I always do this kind of work to honor Shepard," Dodd said. "I've said this a few times while I've been up here. It's when I'm able to keep Shepard so close and I'm able to speak his name so often. That it's days like today that I feel like I have three kids."

Dodd said this is something that just makes sense to her.

"I think this is a discussion everyone is welcoming and that's great," Dodd said. "If Oklahoma does anything, we do a really good job of putting our families first."

Dodd said this is so important to her because she would've taken more time off to be with her son, but the law doesn't allow it. This could've prevented the unsafe sleeping arrangements at the daycare, which caused his death.

She said she's gotten a positive response from lawmakers so far.

Dodd said there are two major policy changes being proposed. She said there could be a bill introduced in the Senate as soon as Thursday.

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