Should I stay or should I go? This is the lifelong question of parents everywhere. When dealing with a traumatized child, the best bet is to try staying home as long as possible. Put yourself in your child’s place and try to think how you would feel coming to a new home and starting in day care a few days later. You would be scared. Nothing is familiar. You don’t know these people, or this house, or community. Anxiety is the top emotion on the list.
There are options to help you stay home with your child and help him or her feel safe and loved.
Family Medical Leave
Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
- for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee
- for placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care with the employee
- to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
- to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition
You must give 30 days notice, if possible, or notify your employer as soon as possible if it is an “emergency” placement. Sometimes placement needs to be moved ahead, so 30 days may not be practical, but in most cases, you should have that much notice.
Vacation and Sick Days
You may have already used your vacation and sick days to accommodate social worker visits and pre-placement visits. If you have days left, this is a good time to use them. If you have a partner or spouse, try combining your sick days and vacation days so someone is home continuously with your new child. If you each have two weeks, you can schedule it so that your child has four weeks home with one of you.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
You will not qualify for short term disability, which is normally used for a mother to take maternity leave, but you can still check and see what your employer offers. Some may offer paid or unpaid leave. California now has laws in place that allow parents to take paid leave. Other states are following, although it may take some time to get them passed. Keep up with the legislation in your state, or petition for legislation. It could help fill some of those hours while you’re waiting for a match.
Working From Home
Ask your employer if you can telecommute. With the internet so easily accessible, most employers are willing to do this if your job allows it.
No option is right or wrong. Each child and family is different, so you will have to figure out what works best for you and is in the best interest of you child. However, the more time you can spend with your new child, the easier his or her transition will be.