As more employees report back to the office, life hasn’t gotten any easier for working parents. In fact, it’s actually gotten harder.
A survey of over 1,500 parents around the nation from June 28 to July 1 by ParentsTogether, a national parent-led non-profit, showed that 70 percent of families say they’re struggling, up from 58 percent in March and 61 percent in April. The survey showed that families are struggling financially now more than ever. Half of those who lost income did so because they were sick, had to care for kids, or were worried about infecting themselves or someone else. Of parents with kids under 5, 44 percent said childcare was the biggest reason they lost income.
The CARES Act will expire this month, pushing many parents deeper into the red. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of parents surveyed said they’d have trouble paying for basics like rent and food without the extra unemployment benefits.
And finding affordable childcare will remain problematic for many working families. As school districts decide how they’ll reopen come fall—whether fully virtually, partially in-person, or some other combination—working parents are faced with an impossibly difficult decision. Sending kids to school puts the community at large at risk, but keeping them at home isn’t feasible for most families, either. Unfortunately, sending them to a childcare provider might not even be an option: One recent report predicted that 40 percent of daycares around the US will close permanently without any financial aid.
Without childcare, many parents, and women especially, will leave the workforce, which will disrupt the entire economy. Another recent survey found that more than a quarter of parents plan on quitting permanently or taking a break due to a lack of childcare—and one-third of parents have already quit.
As women quit their jobs to take care of their kids, fewer women will attain higher-paying roles, widening the wage gap and stunting women’s progress altogether. Family budgets will get even tighter. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be relief in sight. Another 1.3 million people filed for unemployment just last week, while cases are surging in states like Florida (with 31 percent of kids testing positive for COVID-19), Arizona, California and Texas. Congress, if you’re reading this, here’s your cue.