One of the least well-kept secrets about working parenthood is that child care challenges don’t stop after kindergarten.
But this year, with no school, no sitters, no enrichments, the secret’s officially out: grade-schoolers need child care, too.
Parents have been barely treading water since the shutdown. A classic example is the dad trying to work while helping his second-grader with online learning software. “I end up taking a work call in my closet in my underwear,” he told the New York Times.
And the OMG moments just keep coming.
Now, employers are taking note.
“As we’re staring down the barrel of many schools starting virtually,” our CEO Stephen Kramer told the Washington Post this week, “employers recognize that what employees have been doing for the last five months is absolutely not sustainable.” With millions of working parents at stake, it’s no surprise that organizations are trying to brainstorm ideas with school-age children in mind.
And it’s not just about child care. After months of cobbled-together zoom school and parent-supervised learning, exhausted working parents need enrichment and learning for their kids -- and help finding it. Learning pods and study groups may be all the rage, after all. But trying to peruse them is just one more thing for an already overworked parent to do. The Post wrote about Accenture’s Ellen Shook approaching our CEO about options for her people, leading to offerings that provide small-group, part-time school-day supervision at a heavily subsidized cost.
Around the country, more ideas are in the works – including back-up care and study clubs for older kids – with an eye on safety, all not a moment too soon.
“From tutoring discounts to funding searches for virtual school facilitators to help with forming learning pods or micro-schools,” wrote the Washington Post, “the new benefits will be helpful for many exasperated working parents.”
One parent with a pod enthusiastically agrees.
“The kids were so quiet this morning,” she told the Post, “I thought, ‘oh my gosh, this is amazing.’"
Webinar: Reinventing Back to School
How can you support your workforce with child care and virtual learning benefits? We're diving into that - and more - in Mercer's webinar on 8/27.