I was thrilled to welcome my daughter into the world Sept. 12. But this welcomed event came without the paid family leave that would have allowed me to spend more time with her in those precious first months of her life.

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EARLIER this year, the Seattle and King County paid parental-leave program was announced with much fanfare. There was, however, an unfortunate and little-known caveat: The program would not be available to everyone.

One of the biggest groups of employees left out of the paid parental-leave program: public-health nurses.

I was one of those looking forward to spending time at home with my daughter after she was born last month, a privilege I did not have when my son was born 18 months ago. I knew firsthand what it was like to go back to work a mere two weeks after the birth of a child because any other choice was unaffordable for my family. I know how uniquely fortunate I would have been to have the opportunity for paid leave.

Time to be home and care for an infant is extremely important for the well-being of a parent and it’s a smart, progressive policy. Therefore, when I first heard that King County nurses were being excluded from the family-leave program, it seemed like an abandonment of the county’s commitment to employees and families.

It is still perplexing why the paid parental-leave pilot program was connected to curtailing unpaid leave, which protects employees who face unexpected illness or injury and is utilized by less than 2 percent of county employees.”

The decision to exclude nurses from family leave came from County Executive Dow Constantine’s office, which made paid parental leave contingent on giving up an otherwise obscure benefit of unpaid protected leave. It is still perplexing why the paid parental-leave pilot program was connected to curtailing unpaid leave, which protects employees who face unexpected illness or injury and is utilized by less than 2 percent of county employees.

Further, the conditions the county dictated were that unpaid protected leave would be taken away forever in exchange for a one-year paid parental-leave pilot program, with no guarantee that parental leave would be implemented permanently. Given this choice, the nurses voted against it, calling out a cynical attempt to pit young parents against ill or injured nurses or those caring for aging parents. About 275 public health nurses are impacted by this.

The terrific irony is that a majority of public-health nurses work for family programs, where we live and breathe the importance of early childhood attachment and supporting families. I work with homeless children and their parents, doing everything I can to support them through the challenges of bringing a new child into the world and caring for them. I’ll admit, it is challenging to do this sort of work when I don’t believe my employer is equally committed to these same goals.

I do believe there is an opportunity to rectify this issue and for King County to demonstrate its commitment to families and its employees by simply implementing parental leave without condition.

I appreciate that many members of the Metropolitan King County Council are empathetic and supportive of county employees, like me, who were left out of the program. As I waited for my daughter’s birth, I held out hope that Constantine and his executive-office staff would demonstrate their support for families and employees by implementing parental leave for all employees, because, let’s face it, it’s the right thing to do.

I was thrilled to welcome my daughter into the world Sept. 12. But this welcomed event came without the paid family leave that would have allowed me to spend more time with her in those precious first months of her life.