A team of first year MPA students at the University of North Carolina are partnering with ELGL to conduct original research on North Carolina local governments and paid family leave. In this series of blog posts, we meet the research team and hear their perspectives on this project and topic.
What’s the research process your team is employing? Why did you choose this process?
My name is Emily Langston and I am a first year Master of Public Administration candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am from Portland, Oregon, where I attended Portland State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Community Development and Political Science.
After graduating from Portland State, I spent the next couple of years working as a Legislative Assistant in the Oregon Legislative Assembly. I decided to pursue an MPA at UNC-Chapel to develop the skills to lead human services programs in state and local government.
I am excited to be working with ELGL and a team of my classmates this spring to explore the Paid Family Leave policies of North Carolina local governments.
I want local governments to become more inclusive workspaces, and I see offering Paid Family Leave as a great way to make local government careers more accessible to caregivers, particularly women.
Our team set out to determine how many local governments in North Carolina offer Paid Family Leave and what those different policies look like. We also want to know what challenges local governments face to offering paid family leave and what benefits they see when they offer it. To answer these questions, we are using a mixed-methods research approach.
We started out by reviewing the literature on Paid Family Leave. Some of us read academic literature while others focused on practitioner-oriented articles and reports. Exploring this range of sources gave us all a broad understanding of how local governments approach Paid Family Leave, and why these policies are growing in popularity. Having this background has helped us frame our primary research going forward.
We devised a survey to send out to local government leaders in North Carolina. So far, it has gone out to Human Resources managers or other administrators in all 100 counties in the state. Next we will be sending it to municipalities with over 5000 residents.
Our survey asks whether the local government employer offers paid maternity or paternity leave, or paid leave to care for a critically ill family member. It also asks for specific details of those policies, and asks respondents to discuss the benefits and challenges their locality faces in offering Paid Family Leave.
As we compile and analyze our survey results, we will be following up with select local governments with brief interviews. This will help us flesh out our understanding of the benefits and challenges to local governments offering Paid Family Leave.
Anecdotally, we expect that only a few North Carolina local governments offer paid family leave, so we plan to reach out to those that do to learn more about what they offer and how the policy works for them as an employer.
Our final product will be a research report and presentation that we will be happy to share with local government leaders in North Carolina and beyond. We are hopeful that our research can serve as a model to study local government Paid Family Leave policies in other states.