Helping Kids by Keeping Moms in the Workforce

Future Works Alliance PHL knows that improving the lives of children starts with supporting working mothers, writes Ceisler’s Alison Burdo.

Nurture the roots of the tree and its fruit will blossom. In other words, if you want to improve the lives of children, support working mothers.


More than 2.4 million women have left the labor force since the start of the pandemic, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. The women’s labor force participation rate, those who are either working or looking for work, has sat at or below 56.1 percent for the past 12 months – figures not seen since 1988, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. And a fall 2020 McKinsey-Lean In report found that among mothers with children under age 10, 76 percent rank childcare among their top three challenges during COVID-19.


Meanwhile, the CDC includes “communities where adults have work opportunities with family-friendly policies” as one of the protective factors that may lessen the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It also lists “strengthening economic supports for families” among its strategies for preventing adverse childhood events like violence.


For Greater Philadelphia companies unsure where to begin, look to the evidence-backed best practices offered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and featured last month in Future Works Alliance PHL’s inaugural event, “Women, Work and Covid: The Future is Still Female.”

Among the recommendations made by Future Works Alliance PHL are that employers should:

  • Allow flexible scheduling and remote-work arrangements

  • Offer backup care

  • Offset the cost of childcare through vouchers and subsidies

  • Provide onsite childcare

If fostering workplace gender equity and developing an economic structure that helps prevent child abuse and neglect is not enough to motivate the C-suite, then consider the bottom line. Nearly one-third of employees have voluntarily left a job during their career because of caregiving responsibilities, according to a 2019 Harvard Business School research report, a number that surely rose in the wake of the pandemic. For employers, the cost of turnover can reach nine months’ worth of the departing staffer’s salary, the Society for Human Resource Management estimates.

With the pandemic poised to eradicate years of progress in workplace gender equity, it is imperative employers adopt more family-friendly policies for mothers… and for their children.

Alison Burdo is a Senior Account Executive in Ceisler Media’s Philadelphia office.

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