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Summertime, and the Working Isn't Easy

Workplace Fairness®

School's Out for Summer—What's a Working Parent To Do?

For parents with school–aged children, summer can be a very stressful and challenging season. Parents not only need to find and secure adequate child care, but they also have to find a way to manage the additional (and often sizable) extra cost.

Summer child care facts:

  • The average number of hours children ages 6–12 are left alone during the day triples during the summer from 4 to 12 hours.
     
  • Summer is the hardest time to make sure their child has things to do, 58% of parents say.

There are several possible ways to deal with the summer child–care dilemma—consider the following options:

Get your employer to help you. When workers experience child care problems, they are often late or are forced to miss work. Also, they may be preoccupied. Combined, these factors slow production and cost employers, so employers really do have an incentive to help their workers with child care. Do the research or even start a task force—see how many people at your workplace are affected by child care issues and what it is costing your company. Then research what a child care program would cost. When your employer sees how helping families with their child care needs could actually help their bottom line, they will be much more apt to provide services.

Adjust your work schedule. Employers are increasingly allowing more flexibility. Depending on your family situation, making simple adjustments to your work schedule can alleviate some of the summer stresses of child care. For example, working four 10 hour days rather than five 8 hour days will provide you with one less day you need to send the kids to child care. If you have a partner who can do the same thing, or if you can adjust your "weekends" to offset your partner's, you will only have to send the kids to day care a couple days a week in the summer, dramatically reducing your costs.

Think outside the box. If you are only looking at traditional day care providers, you may be missing quality and affordable child care possibilities. Consider reaching out to community organizations like the local YMCA, Junior League, schools, and places of worship which often have low–cost programs for children. If you have older children, consider letting them spend their days volunteering at a hospital, animal shelter, or retirement home. They will be doing a valuable service and will be supervised!

Every family and child care situation is different, so there is no one–size–fits–all solution to the summer child care problem. However, there are numerous resources available to help parents.

The following websites all contain valuable information and strategies to help working parents during the summer and all year long:

  • The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA)—Works with more than 800 state and local Child Care Resource & Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high–quality, affordable child care. http://www.naccrra.org
     
  • Moms Rising—working to build a massive grassroots online resource to move motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country's awareness, and to provide grassroots support for leaders, as well as organizations, addressing key motherhood issues. http://www.momsrising.org
     
  • Families and Work Institute—a nonprofit center for research that provides data to inform decision–making on the changing workforce, changing family, and changing community. http://www.familiesandwork.org
     
  • The National Partnership for Women & Families—a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses public education and advocacy to promote fairness in the workplace, quality health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. http://www.nationalpartnership.org

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