Nearly 25 million American workers provide informal care for an elderly family member or friend who needs help with basic personal needs and daily activities. This number will probably grow as the post-World War II baby boomers – all 76 million of them – continue to age. Yet cobbling together time off from work is a real challenge for many caregivers. Some don’t have sufficient leave or the ability to take it when they need it. Others simply can’t afford to take leave without pay. Without job protections, others risk losing their jobs if they take time off to deal with these common caregiving demands. Three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – have paid family leave programs for workers who are temporarily disabled, or bonding with new children (sometimes called parental leave), and for workers caring for elderly parents and other family members. New York will join them in 2018. These are important policies: workers receive more financial security, and employers could benefit from, lower staff turnover or other business factors. The Department of Labor has released two research briefs from ongoing commissioned studies examining these programs and how they are working, especially for workers caring for elderly parents. One brief reports that more than 230,000 workers a year receive paid leave benefits in these three states under the programs. The researchers also explain that family leave benefits for eldercare comprise a small share of overall family leave. For example, in California, 90 percent or more of those receiving state paid family leave benefits do so for bonding with a new child, and less than 10 percent are caring for a family member. This is surprising given the number of working Americans who report caring for an elderly parent, and an issue on which additional research is needed. The surprisingly low take-up may be related to a general lack of awareness. A second brief, based on discussions with working caregivers in several communities in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, explains there is low awareness of paid family leave programs, and confusion about the benefits provided and how they interact with other kinds of leave. For example, many workers in the discussion groups didn’t understand the differences between an employer’s leave benefits, the state paid leave programs, and the federal program Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides for unpaid, but job-protected, leave. These findings confirm those from earlier research, which found that over 50 percent of California workers did not know about the program two years after it started. And a nationwide survey in 2011 found that while about two-thirds of U.S. workers had heard of the FMLA, many were not sure about eligibility and benefits. While program awareness and understanding seems relatively low, when caregivers in the discussion groups heard about what the programs offered, nearly all said the benefits would be valuable to them and their families. One person quoted in the brief said, “It’s hard enough to know you have to take care of someone, and now you won’t have to have the worry of losing your job or losing money.” Several workers in the group who were caring for an elderly parent also mentioned their reluctance to tell employers they were taking time off to provide eldercare, let alone apply for paid family leave benefits, because they worried about repercussions at work. The experiences in states that have made paid family leave a reality provide an important policy lesson: The number of workers using the benefits is growing, but the programs may be underused in part because many workers don’t know about them. Getting the word out more broadly could have short and long-term benefits for both workers and employers. Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale is the department’s chief evaluation officer. Dr. Christina Yancey is a senior evaluation specialist. For more information on the latest research on worker leave from the department’s Chief Evaluation Office, see www.dol.gov/asp/evaluation/WorkerLeaveStudy.