URI to host conference on paid family leave Dec. 9

Seventy to participate in program at Slater Mill Museum, Pawtucket

WHO: About 70 legislators, employment experts, advocates, academic researchers and community leaders from New England, New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Among the speakers will be Jed Thorp, a new father; Scott Jensen, director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training; state Sen. Gayle Goldin, Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values at Work, and Deirdre Fitzgerald of the W.S. Badger Co., a health and beauty products company in Gilsum, N.H.

WHAT: You CAN Get There from Here: New England Paid Leave Forum. The University of Rhode Island is co-sponsoring the gathering that will focus on the promotion of paid family leave throughout New England. Participants will discuss research, advocacy, implementation and marketing issues, as well as how Rhode Island’s paid leave program works, in a series of panels and general discussions.

Last year, three researchers, Barb Silver, assistant research professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island’s Schmidt Labor Research Center, Helen Mederer, URI professor of sociology, who holds a dual appointment at the Schmidt Center, and Emilia Djurdjevic, assistant professor of management at the College of Business Administration, released their research on Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance paid family leave program. They found high levels of satisfaction and many positive impacts among Rhode Islanders who took advantage of the program. But out of an initial survey sample of about 900 individuals, 49 percent said they were unaware of the program. Launched in February 2015, the one-year anniversary of the program, the study was funded by a $161,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training. Rhode Island’s labor office hired URI as a subcontractor to do the research. A second year of Department of Labor and Training funding throughout 2016 is allowing the researchers to better understand gaps in usage and develop marketing strategies to increase program awareness and access. Temporary caregiver insurance is entirely paid for by employees and offers job security, a unique feature of the program. Rhode Island is only one of three states that offer such a program, and about 12,000 Rhode Islanders have participated. Several neighboring states, however, are working toward similar legislation, and will be represented at Friday’s forum. The United States joins Papua New Guinea and Swaziland as the only countries in the world that do not offer a national paid family leave program.

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 9, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Slater Mill Museum, 67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket.

TO MAKE COVERAGE ARRANGEMENTS CONTACT: Dave Lavallee, URI Marketing and Communications, 401-874-5862.