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Views The working parent crisis is getting worse — here’s how employers can creatively support their caregivers now

Source | | Sarahjane Sacchetti

No working parent could have predicted one year ago the emotional roller coaster that 2020 would bring. COVID-19 didn’t just throw a wrench into the lives of working parents; it threw a boulder. As CEO of Cleo, and a mother to two young children, this is a roller coaster I’ve been forced to ride (and struggled with) myself.

Back in March when schools began to close down, COVID-19 felt — at worst — like a temporary inconvenience. Homeschooling, Zoom links, and missed assignments put a dent in our working lives and weighed heavily on our conscience, but we endured it with the assumption that light would soon appear at the end of the tunnel. By April, reality settled in and so did our new routines. While difficult to manage the juggle, there remained a small glimmer of hope that things would normalize (or some burdens would be alleviated) by summer.

Today, the rose colored glasses are shattered. Five months into this new reality, things have gotten worse for working parents — much worse. Findings from a recent study conducted by my company demonstrate a decline for working parents since April:

  • Only about 35% of families reported they have some form of childcare coverage (compared to 50% in April).
  • Only 28% have had outside help from family (compared to 53% saying they intended to get help from family in April).
  • When asked how productive employees feel compared to pre-COVID-19, 30% of people feel less than 50% productive (compared to 25% in April).

Early plans for childcare have yet to materialize, and the continued slog is taking its toll on working parents. As school districts announce their plans to continue with virtual learning this fall, it’s clear that we are on this roller coaster for the long haul.

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