Sure the Family and Medical Leave Act gives up to 12 weeks time off for new parents, but that’s unpaid leave, and for more than 40 percent of American mothers —since the federal government doesn’t require employers to pay workers during that leave—that time isn’t something they can financially afford. As a result, nearly 1 in 4 new mothers surveyed by the Department of Labor in 2012 were back at work within just two weeks of having a new baby. It doesn’t take rocket science to realize the physical, psychological and emotional toll that takes on moms and their babies. In fact, many, including one mom of four who wants to change this dynamic, call this a crisis.
In response, Margi Scott, 31, of Plymouth, MN, recently launched Take 12, a maternity leave registry she says is “crowdfunding meets baby registry.” On Take 12, rather than registering for your typical baby shower paraphernalia, moms instead tell their story about their need for more time with their new baby. Then friends, family and loved ones can donate securely to contribute toward a goal that tends to meet what Mom needs to keep her at home with her baby for a full 12 weeks. Each mother gives her own goal, and there are photos and profiles for visitors to view. Currently, there are eight families featured, all with upcoming due dates.
the website's sweet logo. Credit: Blake Sohn
Margi says it was her own stressful situation and a comment from her mother that sparked the crowdsourcing idea. The mom of two sons, ages 5 and 8, was two weeks postpartum with twins still in the neonatal intensive care unit and had only seven weeks of disability pay left when she started to worry about how much time she had left to be home with the babies, and whether or not, as a sales manager and the family breadwinner, she was going to be able to afford the time.
Her mom suggested she start a crowdfunding page. That’s when she learned that there were already about 2,000 other women trying to fund their own maternity leaves—a situation that seems wholly unfair in a country where only one in 10 American employees work for a company that provides sufficient maternity leave for new parents. Not only does her site enable moms to raise funds, Take 12 also has a guide about how much to save, what financial factors to account for during leave, and encourages moms to take the full 12 weeks, especially if they qualify for the FMLA.
Margi plans to expand her site to allow fathers to register for paternity leave, and it is also open to small businesses, which often can’t afford to give paid leave. A bonus: A portion of the fees she collects for transactions will benefit The Newborn Foundation in St. Paul.
While it’s a sad state of affairs when families need to raise funds from family and friends to be able to take needed time with their new babies, as always, it takes a mom to get things done. With Take 12, Margi Scott is leading the way one mom at a time.