WORKING PARENTS: JUGGLING EDUCATION AND WORK
QUESTION FROM A WORKING CARPENTER
With fall fast approaching, both of my kids will be doing home school. My wife works from home, which means she needs to focus on her job, which leaves me to help with homeschooling. I may have to stay at home because of this. Are there any resources to help out because this will leave me involuntarily unemployed?
WORKING PARENTS NEED MORE RESOURCES
You are not alone in this dilemma. Many working families are having to navigate remote learning this fall. Limited class schedules and day-care availability require that some parents be home with their children. These adjustments could have long-term impacts on careers.
According to a recent survey, nearly 73% of parents are making significant changes to their professional lives to adjust to remote learning and limited childcare options. About 15% of those parents are thinking about leaving the workforce. These changes are so impactful, some are forecasting that we could lose a generation of working parents.
At the end of July, the $600 weekly unemployment benefit from the CARES ACT expired. Congress is currently in negotiations on a compromise between two proposals: HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions), and HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools). Many working families are facing economic hardship as negotiations stall. The Senate has left Congress for August recess without reaching a deal and will reconvene on September 8, 2020.
REMEMBER YOUR LOCAL RESOURCES
As our country awaits the next economic stimulus package, remember to lean on your community for resources. We compiled a few to get you started.
YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
It is okay to rely on teachers and counselors for resources. Substantial digital equity gaps exist for families going into the 2020–2021 school year. Make sure to advocate for your family by contacting your child’s public school system for resources. Families in the Seattle Public School system have access to a Student 1:1 Laptop Program, as well as internet support for those that qualify.
VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY ONLINE
Quite a few public library buildings are closed to visitors. To continue serving their communities, many are offering curbside pickup, and have a long list of digital resources to help you and your kids adjust to new learning dynamics.
NON-PROFIT RESOURCE: ENTERPRISE
With a mission to create opportunities for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities throughout the Pacific Northwest, this non-profit regularly updates their website with the latest on state and federal policy advocacy, COVID-19 data analysis, tenant and housing services, as well as child care resources.
PREPARE FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
The New York Times put together tips on how to prepare for distance learning with your kids this fall.
SCHOOL DECISION-MAKING TOOL
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources for parents as they consider if their children should go back to school. This includes a “Decision-Making Tool” to help weigh the risks and benefits of going back.
COPING TOOLS FOR CHILDREN
Separation from school, family, and friends can lead to stress and anxiety for children. Check out these CDC resources on mental health.
HAVE SOME FUN
VIRTUAL MUSEUM AND ZOO TOURS
Go on virtual tours of closed museums and zoos around the world. You can visit places like the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art all the way to the Australian National Surfing Museum.
CHECK OUT THESE MAJOR LIBRARY SYSTEMS:
We spoke with Dr. Mia Parker Williams, a 27-year educator and Executive Director of the Office of African American Male Achievement for Seattle Public Schools.
Q: What tips do you have for working parents and their children as they embrace remote learning?
Communication is empowerment.
This means empowering parents to reach out to the schools and having that one person to contact to help them navigate the system. If that person is not contacting you, you contact them. Our kids deserve to be the best that they can. All their needs need to be addressed at those check-ins. We need to ask for the things we deserve to help our kids. Call the principal if you need to. Keep reaching out to the people that may have access to resources for academics, social, economic, all the way to the basics of food, and how to get help with keeping your lights on. Keeping in mind the resources for the things we often take for granted.
Creating time and space is important in balancing schedules.
Access to school support, laptops, the internet, and quiet space is a great start. Build time in your schedule to navigate engagement challenges to figure out what works best for your family. Families are the first educator. Keep grace for yourself, take a breath, and know that you are doing the best for your babies.
Parents have to model learning behavior. Practicing things within your child’s grade level is really important. You can Google a lot of the things that they should know and do for their age. Nurture deep-rooted culture and creativity by bringing them into activities like cooking, learning measurement, and other real-life things that they need to experience. Our kids are brilliant and more resilient than people give them. If your kids cannot access school, keep these simple things in mind. We should all be life long learners, nurture that spirit.
Lean on the people in your inner circle: friends, family, neighbors.
Do you know other parents in a similar situation? Partner with them to create group learning environments and trade off days. Need a larger space for social distancing? Consider community resources like religious partners that may be willing to open their space for learning sessions. You are not alone in this, remember to problem-solve with your circle.