A Father's Fight For Family Leave

I love teaching. I’ve been PreK for 6 years and every day of those 6 years has been a blessing as I watched how much my students grew and matured over the year. It’s not very often that you’ll find a male PreK teacher. I love what I do and I’m always finding ways to either improve my craft or making my classroom and school a better learning environment for my students. I rarely take days off and often stay late after school to work on my classroom.

On top of teaching my lovely 4 year olds, I meet with parents of children who are having difficulty adjusting to school or socializing with other students. So many of these problems can be resolved if parents would spend time with their child. Majority of my students come from homes where both parents are working hard to make ends meet and provide for the children they love so much with opportunities they never had growing up. I tell them that they need to take some time during their busy schedule to talk, read, or play with their kids. I know how much a child needs their parents at home and do my best to inform them. During family engagement Tuesday’s, I have conducted workshops to introduce parents and children to different toys and games they can play at home and show them how beneficial they are. Not many families had the means to buy these games and toys so I went through DonorsChoose.org to crowdfund these items so every family can have them at home. I firmly believe in family involvement in their child’s education...and more importantly, their life.

On Sunday, February 25th at 11:17 AM, I became a father. Liam Danny Yung was born at 6lbs 9oz and was 19 inches. I cried when he was delivered and laid on my wife, Annie’s chest. It was a beautiful moment. The next day, I went to work. I chose to go in for a few hours because we were returning from midwinter recess and there were some housecleaning things that needed to be taken care of. I rushed back to the hospital to spend time with my less than a day old son.

My “paternity leave” is only 9 days. For New York City Department of Education teachers,mothers must use their sick days to go on leave. Teachers accumulate sick days throughout the years they work and must use those days if they wish to go on maternity leave. If they do not have enough days saved up, they must borrow days. For fathers, the option is even more pathetic. I have over 40 days in my sick day bank saved up and I cannot use any of them to take time off to care for my newborn son. I am only allowed to use 3 personal days and 7 sick days as a leave. Unfortunately, that number is even lower because of the days I took off when I was actually sick.

Let’s be clear....Mothers and fathers are NOT sick because they have a baby or adopt a child.

My only other option is to apply for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) where I can take a leave for up to 12 weeks UNPAID. I live in New York City. If I’m unpaid for 12 weeks, my family won’t have a home to live in or enough food to eat. I need a real family leave where I can stay home to take care of my baby and wife who can barely go to the bathroom herself after giving birth.

I tell my students’ families how important it is for them to spend time and take care of their children. And here I am, knowing how important it is and can not stay home to care for my own newborn.

There are two goals for this campaign. The first being a supplementary paid paternity leave. If we reach the goal, I will apply for the FMLA unpaid leave and have the generous donations to fall back on as income for the 12 weeks.

The more important goal is making a statement. Everyone should have a decent paid parental leave. As the teacher’s union and city waste time on deciding on a no brainer, your support will speak volumes and help bring about change that is much needed in our society. So many mothers and fathers have congratulated me on the birth of Liam. They tell me to enjoy every minute and warned that those minutes go by quickly and they grow up so fast.

Mothers and fathers are making heartbreaking decisions about the future of their family everyday. The time for change is now.

I have had so much success via DonorsChoose.org and getting my students the materials they need. I hope to generate the same success for my family.

Please help support this campaign by donating, sharing, or both!

Thank you for reading and your consideration.

Andy, Annie, and Baby Liam


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Andy Yung 
Bayside, NY
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