At the turn of the millennium, nearly two-thirds of American mothers with children under six years old were working. While families in the highest income brackets can afford to pay for quality child care services, most families experience severe stress as they struggle to balance employment, child care, and parenting. By no means limited to the United States, this problem is affecting families everywhere, and governments around the world have been implementing programs to increase child care options for two-parent, working families. But are these programs sufficient? How well are working families coping?
Janet Gornick of the City University of New York and Marcia Meyers of the University of Washington have undertaken a comparative study of various child care policies in 14 industrialized countries to better understand how these polices have affected families across the income spectrum. In previous research examining child poverty rates and maternal employment rates overseas, they found that the U.S. lagged behind many nations in its public support for maternal employment. With funding from the Foundation, Gornick and will expand the focus of their research to include not only public programs but also coping mechanisms that parents have used to deal with increased economic and family pressures. In addition to their original policy concerns - child care, public school schedules, and family leave - they will now be assessing income transfers to working families, wages for child care workers, and policies that give incentives to employers to increase family benefits.
The Foundation published Gornick and Meyers' findings in a book titled Families that Work: Practices for Reconciling Parenthood and Employment.