Forty-six percent of respondents to the latest online poll conducted by LifeCare, Inc. indicated that they like their current job but desire to work fewer hours for childcare reasons, while 22 percent would like to quit work altogether for childcare-related reasons.
The poll, conducted on the company’s private web site, was open to the employees of LifeCare’s 1,000-plus client companies nationwide. LifeCare is one of the largest privately owned employee benefits organization in the U.S. and the exclusive provider of Life Event Management Services.
“Obviously, employers everywhere should take notice of these findings since working parents make up a significant portion of the workforce,” says John B. Place, LifeCare President and co-founder. The Labor Project for Working Families estimates that employees who have children under age 18 make up 40 percent of the work force. “Child care counseling and referral services are a powerful, cost-effective tool for recruiting and retaining working parents—and for improving their productivity and satisfaction levels. Employers who don’t prepare to meet this group’s needs will be at a distinct disadvantage in the competitive marketplace.”
Earlier this year, a Time magazine article (“The Case for Staying Home,” 3/22/04) suggested that some women in the “professional” class, who have a choice in the matter, are leaving the work force and, for the first time, employment statistics show a drop in the number of working moms, who are married and have a child less than one year old.
Place points out that great progress has been—and continues to be—made in terms of providing working parents with access to quality, affordable child care options. “The variety of child care arrangements has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, offering parents today several options including in-home care, group child care, and child care centers, for example. In addition, care providers are available for back-up care and sick-child care, and others cater to children who have special needs. Despite all of these advancements, Place notes, more needs to be done to support the nation’s working parents.”
The Need for After School Resources
Key Childcare Findings
Results from recent LifeCare surveys
- 22% of respondents would like to quit work to stay at home full-time for childcare-related reasons
- 46% would like to work fewer hours and have more time for children
- 65% miss, on average, up to 2 hours of work per month due to family/ personal issues, including childcare
- 47% have no before- and after-school care arrangements in place
- 5% leave children home alone
- 100% of HR representatives said unplanned employee absenteeism is more prevalent during the summer months, when school is out
As proof, Place cites a new report issued by Corporate Voices for Working Families(CVWF) that calls upon the nation’s businesses and policy- makers to provide more and better after school resources for school children. In line with CVWF’s mission to rally public and business support for issues affecting working families, the report (“After School for All: A Call to Action from the Business Community”) highlights the need for across-the-board collaboration in order to improve young people’s success in both school and life.
CVWF reports that young people spend just 20 percent of their waking hours in school; it’s the remaining 80 percent of those waking hours that causes parents particular concern. Donna Klein, President & CEO of Corporate Voices for Working Families, asserts that a voluntary system of comprehensive, structured care settings will enable children to use this time to develop skills and interests, while in a safe environment. “Under such a system, children will benefit from greater exposure to learning opportunities,” she says. “And working parents will benefit, too. After all, when employees are comfortable and confident in the quality of the care program, they are mentally engaged at the workplace—and more productive.”
As another school year gets underway, Place encourages parents to lobby support for enhanced childcare programs and appeals to employers, community leaders and legislators to respond. “We’re all stakeholders when it comes to the well-being of our nation’s youth,” says Place. “The advantages of quality childcare programs—before-school, after-school and back-up care—benefit us all.”