Maternity Leave and the USA. Part 3

Source: ‘The Nanny Time Bomb’ 2009

Ok so … putting it simply here’s the problem:

·      The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have paid family leave other than Australia.

·      There are 40,000 kindergarteners home alone every day after school because there isn’t enough quality, affordable after-school programs and many parents need to work during those hours.
·      Out of the 168 countries that don’t have some form of paid family leave for new moms, the USA joins Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Swaziland as the four countries in this category.
·      Right now 72 percent of all moms are in the labor force. But they don’t have any federal paid family leave. This creates an incredible issue with high costs of infant childcare (between $8,000 and $25,000 per year), and a stagnant federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour.

And here are some solutions:

·      Investing in family-friendly policies and programs actually pays off later. For every $1 invested in pre-school care, there is up to a $7 return later. This is because kids in preschool programs generally have less interaction with the juvenile justice system, fewer grade repetitions and a less frequent need for welfare when they are older.
·      Three large US companies, Google, Jet Blue and Best Buy employ flexi time schedules for working parents. More and more Blue Chip corporations are following suit. 7
Crucial to childcare reform is cooperation by US corporations. I have already made the argument that federal government could apply more tax breaks directly to working families but federal government could also grant corporations more tax breaks if they implemented child-friendly practices. Such practices could include:
·      Partial paid leave for both parents who have sick children. (So that working mothers do not have to shoulder the responsibility alone and therefore incur a ‘maternal wall’ bias)
·      Rotating flexi-time for working parents: early morning shifts, night shifts, late night shifts, weekend shifts allowing a spread of 40 hours over the week. Two working parents could thus manage their hours so that at least a third of the time a parent is at home during the week
·      Regulated, subsidized or free on-site crèches
·      An extra annual bonus that is awarded to families with children
·      “Maternity/Paternity Insurance Plans” voluntary projects where workers can pay an extra dividend per month and the corporation matches 50% of that towards an account. That account would then be used to provide at least 6 months paid maternity/paternity leave
·      On-site health and mental-health insurance policies for families.

In summary, when one computes the factors of current childcare practice, the potential for a social time bomb is enormous. In the next blog we will take an overview of the childcare crisis and then examine the potential fallout of this time bomb …