It is often extremely difficult for parents to work while raising a family, which is why it is common for one parent to quit their job and stay at home to take care of the kids. Factors like daycare costs, lack of parental benefits, and the difficulty of childcare in general all come into play when it comes to this kind of scenario. That said, providing support to working parents should also come in a multi-factorial approach.
To illustrate, here are several suggestions on how the government, local communities, and employers can make it easier for parents to work while raising a family at the same time:
Making preschool more accessible
Free preschool programs exist for low-income households in some states, but accessibility is nowhere near as good as families need it to be. Preschool education is an extremely important part of a child’s early development; it gives them a head start for formal schooling and, at the same time, allows parents to leave their child somewhere while they go to work. That said, communities must work on rolling out free preschool programs that are accessible to everyone, regardless of financial status.
Universal preschool or pre-K is an international movement that aims to make high-quality education accessible to all families through public funding. Although the U.S. has yet to implement universal pre-K in all states, several states and cities are working on their own state-funded pre-K services. For example, New York City offers a free preschool program for four-year-olds and is gearing to serve younger children.
Subsidizing day care
The exorbitant cost of sending a child to daycare is one of the many reasons why a lot of parents choose to leave their careers and be stay-at-home parents instead. On average, it takes $1,230 per month to send an infant to a center-based child care facility. This kind of cost is simply not feasible for many families, and it often makes no sense for them to continue working if daycare expenses exceed a sizeable percentage of their monthly income.
Unfortunately, current public investments for child care are not nearly enough to be of substantial help to working parents—or parents in general. Increasing subsidies for childcare is thus the best way to address this growing concern, and to do that, policymakers must study the true cost of child care and modify assistance policies accordingly. Furthermore, it is imperative that they enact long-term solutions as well, such as increasing pay for young childhood teachers and supporting the growth of home-based childcare providers.
Boosting wages for childcare providers
The population of home-based childcare providers and childcare workers alike has been steadily decreasing throughout the years, and one of the main reasons for this is low wages. The average salary of a childcare provider is around $20,000 a year, which is not nearly enough to support one’s own family. That said, increasing wages for childcare providers can help grow the pool for this occupation. In turn, more childcare providers mean less expenses for families as the sources for child care become less scarce.
Supporting parents in the workplace
Most organizations are not obligated to provide support for parents beyond maternal or paternal leave, and even this matter is unfair in most circumstances. Employers play a big role in making the lives of working parents easier, and they can support parents in the workplace through a variety of means, such as:
- Offering paid paternal leave. After the birth of a child, fathers play just as important role as the mothers that get stuck at home. Furthermore, fathers experience high amounts of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion during the transition as well. Offering paid paternal leave not only gives them a chance to adjust to their new home life, but it also helps increase their loyalty to the company that has shown such concern for them.
- Providing work-from-home opportunities. Contrary to popular belief, working remotely is just as productive as working on-site—if not more. Offering work-from-home opportunities (temporary or permanent) to employees can help them build a more positive work-life balance, especially for those who are raising families.
- Making time off more flexible. Allowing parents to take time off as needed can help them work and raise a family at the same time without sacrificing one or the other. This includes time off for emergencies, mental health days, and sick child days.
Today’s world is not friendly towards working parents—especially those in the low to middle-income classes—but as you can see, there are a lot of ways to improve the lives of working-class families, which can, in turn, improve the community as well.