The following is an excerpt from a story by Liz Bell published on EdNC July 27. For the full story, click here. Thanks to EdNC for featuring Family Forward NC.
Working parents’ unmet needs have become ever more apparent as the coronavirus pandemic has halted child care, forced many parents to work remotely, and presented health risks to others who work in environments with other people.
“The COVID crisis has put it out there for everyone that working parents and employers need family-friendly policies in order to make ‘work’ work,” said Emily Swartzlander, chief strategist of Family Forward NC, a nonprofit initiative that aims to improve parents’ workplace environments and children’s health by working directly with employers.
The average annual cost of center-based infant child care in North Carolina was more than the average annual tuition at a public four-year university in 2019, according to Child Care Aware America. In May 2019, 86% of private industry workers in the South Atlantic region, which includes North Carolina, lacked access to paid family leave—extended paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or to address personal or family health issues—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 38% of North Carolina workers did not have paid sick days in 2019, according to a brief by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Low-wage employees are less likely to have access to both paid family leave and paid sick days. Beth Messersmith, the campaign director for MomsRising’s North Carolina chapter, said the pandemic has made working parents, especially low-income workers and workers of color, choose between health and income.