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Abstract

Lack of universal family leave discriminates against low-income families with infants who require care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Birth complications tend to occur more frequently in families living with low socioeconomic status, placing a disproportionate burden on an already vulnerable population. Parents in this group tend to be employed in jobs that do not include the benefit of parental leave. Considering that attachment relationships form as the result of bonding transactions during a critical time in development, limiting contact curtails secure attachment. This, combined with other risk factors, increase the odds of lifelong negative outcomes. Family leave policy on the national level warrants reexamination. Lessening restrictions on eligibility criteria will ultimately lead to better family outcomes. The social worker is uniquely positioned in the interdisciplinary team to advocate for the infant and parents and can facilitate creative alternatives to minimize deleterious sequelae resulting from lack of bonding opportunities.