Working mothers needed childcare from an early age

“Before the pandemic, I would panic every time I got an email from my kids’ school saying it was closed because of a snowy day,” said Marianna, a mother of three children under the age of nine. “It would make my stomach ache if I knew that my whole day at work would be wasted and that my boss, who has no children and likes to call me ‘carpet rats’, definitely wouldn’t understand. I’m laughing about it today because 2020 was like the longest snowy day in hell.” If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the availability of childcare determines women’s ability to work and stay in the labor force in the long term. As childcare centers and schools closed, forcing millions of women out of the labor market in need of those resources, or hiring caregivers who in turn needed those resources for their own children, it became clear that access to Child care is a key component of future work. Conclusion: We cannot work without affordable, reliable and high-quality childcare. Our livelihood literally depends on it.

Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (And Why It’s Different Than You Think) by Reshma Saujani

in the pay, I have identified nine key strategies to effect the critical changes needed to specifically empower women. These strategies were developed in response to a survey of a thousand American moms conducted jointly by the Marshall Plan for Moms and consulting and advocacy communications firm APCO Impact, and supported by research from hundreds of studies, articles and guides, and insights from leading labor experts, practitioners of diversity and inclusion and visionaries shaping the future of the workplace.

Each of these strategies describes what companies can do to change the reality for the women they employ while improving their bottom line. The work to repair and rebuild our workplaces for this new future takes serious commitment, but the companies that recognize their fundamental responsibility to act will ultimately be the ones that will survive the emerging new normal.

It will also provide us, as women in the workforce, with compelling facts and arguments as to why these changes are so important and insights on how to drive this agenda forward.

One of the strategies to support women that is closest to my heart is childcare. Every working parent needs a childcare arrangement that fits their unique family situation and work schedule, so options are key. Here’s the range of solutions some companies are already offering to help families find bespoke solutions that work for them:

  • Give your employees access to resources to help them find caregivers and babysitters in your area. Best Buy, Starbucks and CarGurus give their employees access to, a resource for finding babysitters and other caregivers. Fidelity Investments provides parents with a concierge to help them find vacancies at local daycares.
  • Offer free or subsidized on-site care. Recognizing this urgent need, Mercedes Benz, Georgia Pacific, Aflac, Cerner, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson and many other large corporations have invested in on-site facilities.
  • Offer free or subsidized care at a daycare center or at home. Facebook offers a $3,000 annual childcare grant, and Bank of America reimburses eligible employees for up to $275 per month for childcare. Citibank grants its employees subsidies for external childcare and elderly care.
  • Offer free or subsidized replacement care. Amazon, Apple and General Motors have partnered with Bright Horizons Family Solutions to provide backup care for their employees. Facebook subsidizes ten days a year for backup supervision and Bank of America provides fifty.
  • Negotiate discounts with local child care centers on behalf of your employees. Companies are already offering their employees discounts on museums and gym memberships — that should be a no-brainer.
  • Offer flexible spending accounts so parents can pay for childcare with pre-tax dollars. In 2018, 67% of companies offered FSAs for dependent care.

America has faced a child care crisis for years. Supply far falls short of demand, and many low-income families either live in out-of-town areas that are childcare deserts or barely scratch tuition. Childcare was unaffordable for 63% of full-time working parents in 2018, according to Brandeis University’s Institute of Child, Youth and Family Policy. But even parents with a decent income cannot find a viable childcare solution. Although the Department of Health recommends that families spend no more than 7% of their income on childcare, couples with a national median income of $87,757 are estimated to spend 10.6% on childcare (for one child, the cost of having more children increases exponentially). . Single parents, of which this country has the highest percentage in the world, are allowed to spend up to 37%.

In the wake of the pandemic, agencies hiring home nannies and babysitters are reporting a nationwide shortage of private caregivers, leading to skyrocketing premiums for these roles that many families simply cannot afford. A publicist I know who is married to a college professor complained, “I make good money, but honestly I’m only working to pay the babysitter these days. My wife and I sit around every night wondering if it’s really worth it… if either of us should just stay home with our kids and cut some corners instead.”

It’s a depressing choice. At the same time, many families in America don’t have the luxury of even considering this option because the financial stability of their family unit depends on doubling the income of both parents and there are no viable cuts they can make. This reality is even more stark for single parents, who are the family’s only support system. In these cases, the inability to pay for childcare so both parents can work turns from a troubling burden into a serious crisis.

Less than half of US employers provided childcare support during the pandemic, though mostly through remote work and flexible scheduling options. Only 1% provided direct support in the form of additional childcare or on-site facilities. As an advocacy group Time is up reports that while the former has been (somewhat) helpful during the long months of lockdown when companies are looking to bring women back into the workforce, this direct support is not just a ‘nice to have’ benefit. It is a must.

excerpt from Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (And Why It’s Different Than You Think) Published by One Signal/Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2022 by Reshma Saujani. Working mothers needed childcare from an early age


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