Father's Day is this Sunday, a day to celebrate the role dads play in the lives of their children.
New research from Ball State University shows that although a majority of Americans support fathers receiving paid parental leave for birth or adoption, most fathers must take leave without pay unless they can use accumulated sick leave or vacation time.
Father's Day is a special time for Jordan Brick. It is the day his wife told him last year that he was going to be a father for the very first time. Fast forward to today and his daughter, Reagan, is three and a half months old. He was lucky enough to spend the first eight weeks with both his daughter and his wife on paid leave; however, a new study shows that experience is more of an exception than the norm.
"I had kind of known that I wanted to take some time, and it was a really nice benefit that I could take that paid time off," Brick said.
A high school Spanish teacher in the Sparta School District, Brick was able to build up enough time for eight weeks of paid leave, spending that time at home with his wife to get to know their little girl.
"Moms have that special bond with babies right away, but it takes a little time for dads to kind of develop that relationship," Brick said. "So, I think it was really cool to take the time to spend with her and be with her."
Local organizations like The Parenting Place in La Crosse report seeing more dads taking a step back from work.
"We have fathers at a lot of our programs here, at our play shops," said Michael Scott, a Parent Educator with The Parenting Place.
The Ball State University study shows that few men take paid leave to welcome their newborns, and of that group, only 14-percent of fathers use more than two weeks.
"It's really nice for teachers, especially, because a lot of dads can stay home over the summer with their kids," Brick said. "A lot of school districts are really, really good about allowing their teachers to take time off, too."
While parents can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers are not required to pay them during that time.
"I know financial situations are really different and employers are really different as to the amount of time they'll allow people to take," said Brick.
He considers himself lucky to have spent the time with his daughter.
"To kind of learn about how she acts and how she interacts with people," Brick said. "Just to learn a lot more about feeding schedule and sleep schedule and how much time is involved with taking care of a baby."
The eight weeks of paid time off allowed him to form a bond with his daughter that they will be able to build upon for life.
Brick recognizes that there is still a long way to go in order to provide paid time off for all fathers. He hopes that one day the United States will catch up to the standards held by other countries around the world.
Recent analysis shows that 96-percent of the world provides a paid maternity leave. Just 44-percent of those countries also have policies that allow fathers some form of paid parental leave.