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The Twelfth MAN

Family of five scores a safety with help from Jacksonville Jaguar

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Less than a month after the Jaguars acquired offensive left tackle Branden Albert, he’s already started making headlines, though not on the field. On March 30, Albert donated $7,500 to a couple accused of leaving their three children unattended in a mall while they went to work. The 8, 6, and 1-month-old were found in an employee access hallway at Eastview Mall in Rochester, New York on March 25. The parents, Jean Seide, 39, and Bilaine Seint-Just, 36, were subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of child endangerment.

After making the donation, Albert told Rochester television station WHAM, "I’ve been through this. I've seen this story by my family, friends, and people I've grown up with. It's a rough world.”

The 32-year-old NFL player hails from Rochester.

“At least they were out doing something in trying to provide for the family. Was it the best thing to do? No. People are looking for hope and if I can provide hope the best way I can, I don't have any hesitation in helping people out,” WHAM also quoted Albert as saying.

Many have blamed the parents for being irresponsible and negligent. However, according to the New York State Department of Labor, there is no law requiring employers in that state to pay employees for sick days. 

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employees may request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child. There is no federal law that mandates paid maternity leave, and few states have laws on the books requiring employers to provide it. (Florida does not require paid maternity leave.)

Maternity leave is intended to allow the mother to fully recover from birth and to allow sufficient time for mother-child bonding. In recent years, activists around the country have spoken out about the absence of paid maternity leave, saying that it makes families choose between what’s best for the health of mother and baby and their financial well-being. For low-income families in particular, 12 weeks without pay may lead to financial ruin.

A report on New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s website states, “In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, the cost of child care is increasing $633 per year. Now the average family spends approximately $9,377 per year for an infant, $8,545 for a toddler and $7,782 for a school-age child.”

Childcare costs this high make it much more difficult for low-income families to afford such care for one child, let alone three.

Echoing what many have been saying for years, an April 2016 Forbes article reported that compared to other developed countries the U.S. is “dead last” when it comes to maternity leave. The article noted, “Research has linked paid maternity leave to better health for mothers and babies--lower rates of postpartum depression and newborn and infant mortality and higher rates of breastfeeding and childhood immunizations.”

After Seide’s and Seint-Just’s arrest, a GoFundMe page was started to provide funds to help them afford for Seint-Just to take maternity leave. The page states that, “No woman wants to have to work only 4 weeks after giving birth. Our bodies aren't even ready.”

Albert’s $7,500 contribution to the family matched the amount of donations received prior to his. To date, the GoFundMe has received $18,598 of its $10,000 goal.

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