Globally, more and more women are returning to work after they have children.
There are many reasons women decide to continue or return to work once they have children; the family may need the income the mother makes at work, the income may be needed as a supplement to another partner’s income, or she may simply desire to work because she enjoys it or considers it fulfilling. No matter the reason a mother may decide to return to work studies have shown that mothers who are employed benefit children by improving family income, have better disciplined work behavior, and have a better structure for family routines. Being employed can even have a positive impact on home and maternal mental health. Not only are family outcomes improved, the additional workers also have a positive impact on local and national economies as well.
However, it is not always easy for mothers to return or join the workforce. When there is a lack of familial support or child care services there is an increase of mothers who stay out of the workforce, especially if one or more of their children require special assistance. When a mother works childcare support is essential, however it is often lacking and, if available, very expensive. In some cases, the expense can offset the financial benefits of both parents working. Working mothers most often cite increased childcare assistance as the top thing that would improve and simplify their life. It has been found that making childcare investments create twice the number of jobs as investments in construction.
In one study done in Kenya, conducted by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), a survey of women living in a Korogocho slum showed that women who were able to utilize subsidized daycares earned higher incomes without increasing their number of work hours. In another case study in Mississippi, women who were attending a school to teach construction skills, they found that once the program was able to offer subsidized child care through a combination of government support and grants, more women were able to complete their classes and go on to land higher paying jobs after graduating.Mothers need a variety of support to make balancing home and work a reality. In many countries that have joint family systems, grandparents or other non-working family members fulfill the need for childcare, providing support for mothers to perform all their roles efficiently. In cases where the support is not there, and third-party childcare is not available, the ability of mothers to work becomes much more complicated.
There are many initiatives that companies and countries can partake in to make childcare and daycare more accessible for working mothers. One of the biggest is more research. More research needs to be done to understand the economic impact working mothers have on the economy and how beneficial childcare support can be for families, or places of businesses, and for economies as a whole.
The research that has been done shows that investing in childcare support can have a positive impact on the economy, but more needs to be done to figure out exactly how that looks across various countries and the best way to implement initiatives.Many countries do already offer support in the form of tax credits, subsidized childcare, and grants for employers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an entire Child Care Office dedicated to helping parents understand child care and apply for assistance if they need it.
Childcare assistance can be a great way for parents to afford childcare in some areas, so mothers can return or continue to work. The issue with many assistance programs is that they are often tied to income, so the more income a mother brings home, the less assistance she received. Many times, the decrease in the assistance is more than the increase income, bringing those working mothers right back to square one.
Employers can also provide initiatives to assist in daycare and childcare for working mothers. Having an in-house daycare is a great way employers can support their working mothers. An in-house daycare means mothers are spending less time away from work if something happens with their child, and they don’t have to worry about dropping off their children somewhere different in the morning. In house daycares can also increase the time mothers spend breastfeeding.
In many places employers can also apply for grants to help their employees pay for daycare, and in some cases, provide their employees with special savings accounts where they can put pre-tax money to pay for childcare in the coming year. Providing daycare initiatives to empower working mothers is one of the best thing employers and countries can do to make sure mothers have the chance to stay in the workforce. Mothers, families, and economies can all benefit from this demographic of people remaining in the workforce. To do this they need to have childcare support.