Nearly 40 percent of working adults have children under 18, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, 60 percent of children under 5 were enrolled in regular weekly child care1. For working parents and caregivers, child care has always been a top concern. Finding reliable, flexible care for a child so that parents and caregivers can maintain their job responsibilities was difficult prior to the coronavirus pandemic. However, since stay-at-home orders and social distancing have caused schools and daycares to close, child care – like much of our regular routines – has been completely upended.
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A survey conducted in April2 found that 17 percent of all daycares were closed to everyone except children of essential personnel. 85 percent of those that remained open are at less than half capacity – and many closer to 25 percent of pre-COVID capacity.
While remote work was the norm (for those jobs that could be completed remotely), working parents were challenged with working effectively while managing full-time child care, constant interruptions, schoolwork, homework, and more. But now that restrictions are being eased, and companies are formulating return to work plans the question of concern is: how to manage return to work when daycare and summer camp are unavailable?
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1. Determine Availability
Check with your prior child care provider and see what their plans are. Some daycares and summer camps will re-open – many at reduced capacity to comply with ongoing social distancing. However, they may be able to offer additional spots in limited shifts, alternate days, or non-standard schedules. See if there is any availability, even if it isn’t the same as your former schedule.
Also, reach out to other members of your community. Perhaps someone that lost their job due to COVID will be interested in offering child care to bridge the gap till their next regular job, or take this as an opportunity to explore child care as a new career opportunity.
You should also check with your town, city, county, or state to see if there are any resources or programs available to address a lack of child care in your area.
2. Communicate with your Employer
If you have been working remotely since stay at home orders were initiated, perhaps your employer would be open to continuing remote work for a short-term, part-time, or ongoing basis. Let your employer know the limitations you are encountering and ask for their assistance in coming up with a solution that works for everyone.
If your job is not one that can be completed remotely, ask your employer what options are available. Perhaps there is an accommodation that can be made: job-sharing, alternative work, or a temporary furlough or leave of absence.
3. Be Flexible
Perhaps you are ready to return to the office and get back to a sense of normalcy and routine. However, it is important to keep a flexible mindset. There is still so much uncertainty – when will the economy recover, and concern that easing restrictions could result in a resurgence of infections. Staying as flexible as possible will help you to meet this uncertainty and adapt to changes as they occur.
The lack of child care alternatives should not come as a surprise to most employers, who have hopefully considered this in creating their return to work plans. Be proactive in seeking out potential alternatives to daycare and summer camps that have been used in the past; and be certain to communicate with your employer and work with them to find an effective solution that will work for everyone, both short- and long-term.
If you are currently working with a recruiter or considering partnering with a staffing agency to find temporary, contract, or full-time employment, consider Sparks Group. An experienced placement agency can help you find employment that suits your needs, and bridge the gap if child care is unavailable or uncertain at this time.
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If you are looking at making a career change when the pandemic subsides, working with a staffing and recruiting firm like Sparks Group can help with a job search. Our team of expert recruiters have decades of proven success in matching candidate to company, providing guidance and helping you showcase your skills and experience in the most effective manner.
Visit our free job portal for a list of available full-time, contract-to-hire and temporary positions at leading companies nationwide. It’s easy to apply and we regularly update our postings based on our partner's open positions.