More parents turn to crowdfunding to afford time off with new baby

Devina Rolle's friends and family have been generous since she became pregnant with her first child.

"We have so many clothes. We have so many diapers. We were blessed with a crib," the Jonesboro woman said. "But it's the bills I am worried about."

Rolle, who graduated last month from the University of West Georgia with a degree in psychology and a minor in criminology, works full time as a security officer. As the law requires, her employer will hold her job for her during her maternity leave. But like millions of women across the United States, she will not be paid during that time.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 12 percent of women have access to paid family leave.

Some employers, like Netflix, Etsy and Facebook, have recently added paid family leave benefits. Last month, Coca-Cola announced last month that, beginning in January, it will offer U.S. employees who are new parents — including mothers, fathers, adoptive parents and those providing foster care — six weeks of paid leave, the AJC reported.

Some women also have access to short-term disability benefits. But for Rolle, any time off from work will be unpaid.

"I've saved up, so when the baby comes, I do have a little something I can give my fiance when the rent is due, but not a lot," she said.

So Rolle has joined the legions of women who have set up crowdfunding pages to see if she can get any help. On her GoFundMe page, she stressed that asking for money was out of her comfort zone, but she said she has to do what she can to help her family.

"This is the perfect time to put your pride aside," said Rolle, adding that she knows that becoming a mother is a time when many have to ask for help.

Rolle reasoned that if people were willing to buy gifts, they would be willing to help with her family's biggest need.

"I was so hesitant, but there are expenses that are not for the baby that I shouldn't have to worry about," Rolle said. "I want to be out for six weeks, but I might have to go back sooner. It sucks. You want to spend that time with your child."

GoFundMe is the world's largest personal fundraising site, and people have raised about $2 billion, mostly from friends and family, for everything from medical bills to funeral expenses, charity organizations or business startups.

Kelsea Little, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe, said in a Today Show article that campaigns related to maternity leave or child care have raised more than $8.8 million through 5,800 fundraisers. Other popular crowdfunding services are Indiegogo and YouCaring.

Rolle said she got the idea from a pregnancy-related app on her phone. She isn't expecting much, but said family members have been supportive of the idea.

"Any type of help would be great," she said, adding that she hopes Georgia becomes one of the states that mandates maternity leave policies for companies.

For now, though, "I have no choice but to ask for help," she said.

Earlier this year, Vermont became the fifth state to pass paid family and medical leave or earned sick leave laws.