• Sonal Soni
    JUN 29, 2023

    County Finance Committee approves expanded parental leave measures and small business grants amid ongoing pandemic


    The Cook County Board of Commissioners met to discuss a paid parental leave measure during the Cook County Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.The resolution would expand paid parental leave for Cook County employees for up to 12 weeks. The proposed measure aligns with the county’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment for its employees, according to the meeting agenda.

    Traditional parental leave measures are less inclusive and tend to range around six weeks, according to commissioners. The new resolution provides consistent leave for employees with a range of family structures, with a focus on varied pathways to parenthood. The new measure provides leave for employees with newborns and for those who have become parents through adoption or foster care.

    Related: County Finance Committee to consider 12-week paid family leave policy, amended small business grant programAccording to Comm. Kevin Morrison (D-15), the approved change also aims to include employees of marginilized gender identities. Traditonal paternal leave often abides by gendered terminology that exludes individuals outside of the gender binary, Morrison pointed out.

    “This is going to make sure that all employees — male, female, non-binary, however you identify — that all parents are able to access 12 weeks paid leave,” Morrison said.


    Cook County employees that qualify for the new parental leave resolution must work full-time for at least 12 months leading up to the leave request.

    Additional criteria include becoming a birth parent, intended parent of gestational surrogacy, or parent of an adopted child or foster child.

    Cook County commissioners voted to pass resolution 23-3117 and grant the new parental leave measures with no objections. Numerous attendees thanked the Cook County Bureau of Human Resources for implementing the proposed change, specifically in regards to its sponsors including President Toni Preckwinkle and Comm. Bridget Degnen (D-12).

    “What this does is it welcomes an opportunity for [parents] to bond with their child and still be able to remain competitive in the workplace,” Comm.  Monica Gordon (D-5) said.

    “We want young people to go into government careers,” Gordon added. “We don't want to limit their options because of not being able to have it all. Everyone should be able to have it all if that's what they want.”

    Maternal/Paternal Morbidity

    According to a conversation headed by Comm. Donna Miller (D-6), maternal morbidity rates are high in the U.S., with 32.9 deaths per 100,000 births in 2021, according to CDC data – an increase from 23.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2020. Pregnancy-related mortality increased over the past several years in Illinois. Those numbers also disproportionally affect people of color, specifically Black women.

    Small Business Grant Program

    Meeting attendees also discussed a proposed amendment to a federally funded small business grant program.

    The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides $1.9 million in stimulus funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to proposed resolution 23-3115, the source grant will provide $40 million of ARPA funds and grants to small businesses in Cook County.

    According to Irene Sherr from the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, the purpose of the grant is to help stabilize operations, foster recovery and resiliency, and assist businesses to regroup in the post-pandemic economy.

    “The one difference from our last iteration of a small business [grants] is we are creating two pools,” Sherr said. “One pool will be for very small businesses [and] larger businesses that have employees.”

    Sole proprietors that have annual revenues between $20,000 and $50,000 would receive $10,000 grants. Businesses with revenue over $50,000 would receive $20,000 grants.

    Commissioners voted to pass the resolution with no objections. The approved change also prioritizes businesses located in suburban Cook County as well as those that have been most impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

Showing 1 reaction

Or sign in with email

    Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.