Parental Paid Leave and Youth Health in Chicago

In the 2017-18 Healthy Chicago Survey, Jr., Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) teamed up to learn more about child health in the city. In this report, we share results about parental paid leave and youth health in Chicago.

Key Findings:

  • Among employed parents in Chicago, nearly four in ten did not receive paid sick leave of any kind.
  • One out of every six employed parents said that in the previous week there were times when they needed to take time off work but did not.
  • Children with worse health status were less likely than children with better health status to have a parent who received paid leave at their job.

Download the Report (PDF)


Information You Can Use

A Large Proportion of Employed Parents Did Not Receive Paid Sick Leave

Seventy-one percent of parents in our sample were employed. Among employed parents, nearly four in ten did not receive paid sick leave (39%), and one in six (17%) said that in the previous week there were times when they needed to take off work but they did not.

In July 2017, Chicago and Cook County passed an ordinance that established the right to paid sick leave for employees of employers in Cook County. There is also a process for submitting a complaint if an employer is not providing sick leave that is required by the ordinance.

Reasons that Parents Needed to Take Time Off Work

Parents were more likely to need time off to care for someone else than for their own illness or medical care. The most common reason that parents needed take time off work was for illness or medical care for a family member such as a child (34%). Other common reasons included childcare other than for illness (21%), and one’s own illness or medical care (19%).

Finding child care can be time consuming, but there are tips for choosing child care options that best meets your family’s needs. The Child Care Assistance Program through the Illinois Department of Human Services has resources to help Illinois families find and select the best child care for their child, and can assist eligible families with child care payments.

Youth Health Status and Parental Employment and Leave

Among youth with better health status, 73% had a survey-responding parent who was employed, compared to 54% of youth with worse health status. Importantly, children with worse health status were less likely to have a survey-responding parent who received paid leave at their job (45%) than children with better health status (64%).

You can find lists of local resources for infant and youth health from the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Westside Healthy Start.

Youth Health Status and Family Income

Children from families with higher income were healthier than children from families with lower income. By income level, the lowest income workers are the most likely to have irregular work schedules. Irregular work schedules can be particularly difficult for parents who must secure childcare, sometimes at a moment’s notice.