We stand with working parents and caregivers—particularly working mothers—who are balancing the uncertainty of child care and school with work, careers and making ends meet. We also commend local leaders for making difficult decisions to keep our children and community safe. There are no perfect solutions to this child care crisis, but we know that it will take all of us to build options for families to consider what works best for them. Paid leave and child care assistance are two critical pieces for which the Women’s Fund will continue to advocate, but our community must come together to address the enormity of this caregiving crisis now and into the future.
Some working parents may find temporary support in recent federal emergency paid leave provisions, providing for both short term sick leave to care for a child (10 days), as well as an additional 10 weeks of family leave in the event of school or child care closures. This emergency paid family leave may be used intermittently and could potentially provide an option for some families when children cannot be in school. However, not all employees are eligible for this paid leave, and not all families can afford to take it, as such leave is only partially paid. For more information about emergency leave that may be available to you, see our fact sheet on paid leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without more robust supports, many working parents will be forced to leave the workforce. In April, 6% of parents expected to quit their jobs because of the pandemic. Now that is up to 27%, and you can bet that women will be the ones opting out of the workforce to take care of their kids. With nearly 80 percent of school-age children in Nebraska having working parents, this will be a devastating loss in our workforce (U.S. Census Bureau).
The Women’s Fund will continue to advocate for policies like expanded access to child care assistance, paid leave and support for child care providers, but to fully support working parents, employers must also rise to meet the demands of this unprecedented time by:
- Providing flexibility in work scheduling and generous paid leave. Employers exempt from providing paid family leave or sick time under federal law should nonetheless ensure their employees are cared for.
- Allowing employees to work remotely and schedule work hours around their new, additional responsibilities at home.
- Pursuing job sharing opportunities, allowing employees to shift workloads to meet flexibility their lives now require.
- Investing in your workforce by subsidizing child care as working parents face high and unanticipated child care costs for school-age children.
With the likelihood that the pandemic will continue, response to the crisis requires policy and employer practices that meet the needs of working families. The crisis faced by working parents during this pandemic necessitates true support for Nebraska families through multiple approaches. We support the thoughtful decisions made to prioritize the health of children as daycares and schools approach re-opening. It’s now time to do more for their parents.