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June 2018
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Lend a Hand to Parents
TD Magazine

Lend a Hand to Parents

Helping employees manage childcare needs enables them to focus on professional development.

If your organization employs parents, what do these individuals do with their children while at work? Even after children reach an age appropriate for full-day classes, school hours often don't align with office hours, meaning that employees must either match their schedules to schools or find childcare arrangements—a costly affair. According to a 2017 Care.com survey, 32 percent of families spend 20 percent or more of their annual household income on childcare.

"Finding childcare has a significant effect on both engaging parents in their work and on their ability to find time for professional development," says Lucy Davidson, a program manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Center for Education and Workforce. "Poor access to care is a significant reason why parents stop their education, and a lack of quality options can lead to absenteeism and turnover."

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Data from the Care.com survey support Davidson. The survey reports that childcare costs have influenced career decisions for 63 percent of parents, with 33 percent changing jobs, 23 percent downshifting to part-time schedules, and 64 percent using sick days in lieu of paying for care. All these decisions could affect a company's talent pipeline, maybe even preventing high potentials from developing to fill critical roles.

Davidson recommends taking action to help parents. She notes that although each organization has different circumstances, companies can choose from many options and models of support. "While large organizations with centralized workforces might be able to provide the gold standard of on-site childcare, most organizations, no matter their size or employee demographics, can afford something small, such as providing flexible spending accounts (FSAs), which can go a long way," she explains.

Another option Davidson highlights is providing backup care, which is when a company partners with center-based care facilities to reserve several spots for employees' children in cases of emergency. "Whatever you do will be worthwhile if it helps people focus on their developing themselves and have more productive days at the office," she concludes.

About the Author
Alex Moore is a former writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development. Prior to that role, he served as the research coordinator for ATD, writing content for the research department, managing its Twitter account, and assisting with data collection and analysis. Alex graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in English.
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