An Aurora man's idea of amending the Family Medical Leave Act to allow unpaid time off when a child dies now is more than an idea -- it's a bill in the U.S. Senate.
Kelly Farley is in Washington, D.C. this week meeting with staff members for 19 legislators in both houses of Congress seeking their commitment to back the Parental Bereavement Leave Act introduced to the Senate in July.
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"Basically the agenda is to get them to support the bill that's been introduced by Senator Jon Tester," a Montana Democrat, said Farley, who lost two children during their birth. "We just want to make sure that the people on the committee are aware that there's people out there who want to see this passed."
The act would add the death of a child to a shortlist of medical events that make employees of companies regulated by the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off.
"You get time off for the birth of a child, why not for the death of a child?" Farley told the Daily Herald in March.
Members of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee are among those who could have an important say in possibly passing the bill, Farley said.
Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois is a member of that committee. Farley and Barry Kluger, an Arizona man also pushing for time off to grieve, will be meeting with Kirk others on the committee and Illinois legislators including Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam and Judy Biggert.
"This is a bipartisan effort; there's no political agenda here," Farley said. "It makes sense from the standpoint of them supporting bereaved parents -- this includes any kind of loss."
Donna Corrigan of Villa Park, who lost a child after a car accident, said it's an encouraging sign that Farley has meetings with so many legislators.
Corrigan, who's involved with the Hinsdale chapter of Bereaved Parents of the USA, said parents who have lost a child need to educate others about what kind of help and support they need.
Time off to grieve, cope and heal is something they need, she said.
"It's really touched somebody's heart. (Legislators) are beginning to understand what parents are talking about," Corrigan said. "It sounds like something might really happen."
Farley encourages suburban residents who support the idea of allowing unpaid time off for a child's death to contact Kirk and Durbin.