Who's Going to Take Care of the Children?

by Julie Graber | on 12 May 2020

You have to wonder how many articles need to be written before someone realizes that there is a train wreck waiting to happen as offices open back up while schools, after-school programs, and daycares remain closed. 

Kids - at home. Parents - at work. Anybody see a problem here? 

Yes, the end of the traditional school year is coming, but that won’t bring an end to the problem of who’s going to watch the kids - most summer camp or daytime program for kids have undoubtedly already been canceled. 

Same problem: kids - at home. Parents - at work.

And next fall? Schools are talking about split shifts and other ways to reduce the numbers of students in school at any one time. Kids may not be in school all day or every day. Are employers going to accommodate that kind of flex-time for their workers? To quote one of my favorite Christmas movies (appropriately, Home Alone), I don’t think so. 

Anecdotal and research data have both confirmed that the extra burden of care that has resulted from having children at home during the day has fallen on women during the coronavirus epidemic. So is it any wonder that it’s women who are asking: who’s going to take care of the children?

This is why having more moms in leadership roles is critical, because clearly no one around the decision-making tables has noticed that the plans for the next six to eighteen months are missing some resources - the ones that take care of the children while mothers and fathers are at work. 

Is it that it’s mostly men making these plans, and they have wives who don’t work outside the home? Is it that they employ on nannies and live-in care who manage the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for children (and who are now serving as teachers as well to ensure completion of home-school assignments)? Is this why the issue hasn't come up? And if it has, why isn’t anyone talking about solutions?

Once again, the lack of support for working women in the US is rearing its ugly head. We’re the only “developed” country who places such disregard on the needs of working moms (you have to wonder about the definition of “developed”). Lawmakers turned the same blind eye to childcare needs when they implemented welfare-to-work requirements in 1996.

Make no mistake - it’s not that we don’t know how to handle a child-care crisis. We did it during WWII, when we needed women in the factories. Communities, churches, companies, and yes, the public sector stepped up to fill the void. That may not be the solution this time, but we didn’t leave it to the women to figure it out on their own. 

And women shouldn't have to figure it out on their own this time as well. But I'm willing to bet it will be moms who come up with the solutions.

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