New families and employees will often hear “Welcome to the Mansfield Family” on their first day. We don’t mean this lightly. Everything we do at Mansfield Hall is centered around building community. And, as most know, a tight community is no different than family. From our parents, to our students, our fellows, our staff, and even our visitors, we treat every decision and every interaction as family. But this shouldn’t be a surprise, Mansfield Hall started with family.
When I first floated the concept for Mansfield Hall, my wife, who is a talented clinical psychologist, and my brother were my closest advisers and supporters. Shortly after starting Mansfield Hall in Burlington, my brother left an illustrious public school career as a psychologist and helped to launch Mansfield Hall- Madison and now I get the privilege of working with him every day. In addition, my father was a school psychologist and camp director, my mother was a preschool director for over 40 years, my sister is a school counselor, my sister-in-law is a teacher, and my brother-in-law is the president of a large non-profit parochial school; each has contributed to Mansfield Hall in their own way. The wisdom, trust, and faith from my family has been invaluable.
On January 12th, 2014 my loving son James Thomas joined our family and on December 3rd, 2015, my endearing daughter Georgia Constance arrived. After both of their births, I had the privilege of spending time with my new family and supporting them during these amazing and exhausting first few weeks. Nothing could have prepared me for the incredible experience of having a baby, nor could I ever have imagined the strength and power I witnessed as my wife brought these two beautiful souls into the world. Those weeks with my family were invaluable. Indeed, they were the first weeks of what will be our greatest accomplishments and the most important job we will ever have.
Everyone should have this opportunity. No one should have to choose financial stability over their family. For these reasons, I am proud to announce that Mansfield Hall will be ensuring that new moms will have the ability to take up to three full months of paid leave to spend with their new child and partners of new moms will have the option to take up to five weeks of paid leave to support their family. We know that this critical time is essential for our children and we honor all of our families, and our Mansfield Family, by choosing our children first.
Finally, although I generally try to be apolitical when it comes to Mansfield Hall, I would be remiss not to shine a light on this crucial politicized subject. Study after study links positive outcomes with the care that our children receive in the first months of their life. Not only is Mansfield Hall not obligated to provide this paid time by any law or regulation, but crafting this policy had absurd barriers that stood in the way of trying to do the right thing. Moreover, the full weight of this policy rests solely on our shoulders, with no additional financial support available. We are proud to lead the way as a small organization and not only hope other organizations will choose families first, but also hope as a country we can come together and recognize that we are only as good as the children we raise. Paid family leave should be a right, not a benefit.
Perry LaRoque, Ph.D.