Teens Moms Say the Pandemic Has Made School a Huge Challenge

Like thousands of high schoolers around the country, 17-year-old Olivia Gehling graduated from high school after almost a year of remote learning. But she also finished her senior year while taking care of her now 18-month-old daughter, Lovelyn.

Olivia plans to attend real estate–license school in-person this fall to obtain her Realtor’s license, something she had been wanting to do even before her pregnancy. Going back to school in-person presents a different set of challenges for teen moms than what other students are facing. For Olivia, Lovelyn is a critical part of her decision-making process, specifically because of childcare. Once classes get started, she will be in school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Her boyfriend and Lovelyn’s father, Cole Burge, will also be in Realtor school with her, meaning the teen parents will have to figure out their childcare plans for their daughter.

“To be honest, I don’t have a set plan. I know I won’t send her to day care because it’s just so expensive here in Ames, [Iowa], and the wait lists are insane. But I think my mom, my grandma, and maybe Cole’s mom—whoever can help will totally help us,” Olivia tells Teen Vogue.

In Queen Creek, Arizona, Angelise Torres, an 18-year-old mom, has the same concerns. Angelise graduated in her high school’s class of 2021 when her daughter Aria was five months old, and has since applied to college, hoping to study pediatric nursing or dermatology. Like Olivia, Angelise isn’t planning on sending Aria to day care. “Different family members will probably be watching her; maybe my little sister—I don’t know. When she’s old enough for preschool, she’ll be in preschool,” says Angelise.

According to Nicole Lynn Lewis, founder of Generation Hope, childcare is a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lewis founded Generation Hope in 2010 with the goal of helping more teen parents get a college education. She says that this past year, around 30% of teen parents in the Generation Hope program have been without childcare.

“Sometimes you make the assumption that, hey, online courses means you don’t need childcare. But it’s very hard to concentrate when you have a little one at home,” says Lewis. “They’ve had to be really creative in how [they can] still work and go to school when [they] don’t have childcare in place, whether it’s, ‘I’m bouncing my baby while I’m trying to engage in class’ or ‘I’m going to study all night long while my baby sleeps.’”

Lewis stresses that childcare isn’t the only factor in teen moms’ decisions about returning to in-person school. Many are providing for their family, despite being in school full-time.

While Olivia was pregnant, she worked as a lifeguard to make sure that she was able to financially provide for her future daughter. Currently she works four jobs, which she plans to continue into the fall. She runs a photography and videography business, cleans houses, manages her TikTok and Instagram accounts, and is starting a luxury picnic business. Despite her busy schedule, Olivia remains firm in her decision to go to school in-person next fall.

“I thought it would be difficult to kind of do it online with all these jobs, and then being a mom on top of it. It’s superhard to get anything done when she’s awake, because she just gets into everything. I think it would just be really hard to even focus,” says Olivia.

Angelise agrees. When the pandemic hit in her senior year, her high school went completely virtual, and she was taking four classes online. “It was really hard to study with Aria, because she plays with my paper—she’ll crumble it, she’ll cry when I’m not with her, just stuff like that. By the end of the year, I was doing extra work to catch up and make sure I was ready to graduate,” she says. Because of her experiences with online school, she plans on attending college in a hybrid model, going both in-person and online.

Maddie Lambert, an 18-year-old mom, has opted to get her General Educational Development (GED), or high school equivalency diploma, rather than trying to complete a traditional high school education. Maddie got pregnant with Evelyn in her freshman year and decided to get her GED to devote more time to her daughter. She planned to take the GED test last year, but because of the closure of most in-person test sites, her plans were temporarily pushed back. “The virtual testing just doesn’t really work for me, because since I am a mom, it’s really hard to find that time away to take the test,” says Maddie.

In the fall, Maddie hopes to get her GED and go to college, studying the sciences. But she’s concerned about staying away from her daughter for long periods of time.

“I definitely don’t want to start any in-person education for myself until my daughter is in school,” says Maddie. “When she turns four or five, I plan on putting her in a Montessori program. When she’s there, I’m hoping I’ll be able to do my school so that I don’t have to spend any more time away from her than I already would be.”Lewis says that, ultimately, change has to start from the core of school culture.

“If you are pregnant or if you have a child, you’re often made to feel that [school] is not a safe space for you. And it’s really, really hard to be successful in a space when you don’t feel welcome. We need a culture that’s really embracing of all students, no matter what their experiences are,” she says.

Source: Teens Moms Say the Pandemic Has Made School a Huge Challenge | Teen Vogue

.

Related Contents:

Work from anywhere’ is here to stay. How will it change our workplaces

Telecommuting has Mostly Positive Consequences for Employees and Employers

Six Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home in Europe during COVID-19

Federal Computer Week, Telework: Senate gives unanimous thumbs up

Survey: Only 7% of Workers Say They’re Most Productive in the Office

Global, regional, and national burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours

Advantages and Disadvantages of Telecommuting to Work

Change in remote work trends due to COVID-19

Straight Talk on Telework. Technology

Homeworking: helping businesses cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint

Pros And Cons of Working From Home – Extra Paycheck

Change in remote work trends due to COVID-19

Work from anywhere’ is here to stay. How will it change our workplaces

The Pandemic Led Many Women To Rethink Work. Here’s What They Want Most From Employers

No one had it easy during the pandemic, but the data shows that women may have had a harder time than men. At the end of 2020, women held 5.4 million fewer jobs than they had in February 2020, before the pandemic began. Meanwhile, men lost 4.4 million jobs over that same time period.

While working-age women overall have largely recovered since the depths of the pandemic, mothers have repaired their losses more slowly.  As of July 2021, nearly 1 million fewer mothers were actively working than in July 2020, according to Misty Heggeness, principal economist and senior adviser at the Census Bureau.

There are things employers can do to help. In a panel discussion on Tuesday hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum, a national organization dedicated to developing and advancing policies for women, experts discussed what employers can do to keep their female employees, especially those with children, on the payroll. Here are three things women say they want:

1. Accessible child care.

Many of the current struggles women face derive from finding adequate and affordable child care, said Angela Rachidi, senior fellow and Rowe Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare.

She noted that many employer policies don’t completely meet a family’s needs, such as providing access to a convenient childcare provider. It’s also not particular to the pandemic, she noted that workplaces should be focusing on policies that offer more flexible, more affordable options, as opposed to just blanket childcare subsidies.

“I think that that’s where our focus should be,” said Rachidi. “It should be not only our government policies, but again, our workplace policies to make child care better, and meet the needs of families.”

2. Workplace flexibility.

Flexibility is vital to all working parents–not just mothers–but mothers are often quicker to express a desire to have the flexibility to work a reduced schedule, if need be, said Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington D.C. So if the goal is to keep working parents on the payroll–or get them back–allow them time off during the day if needed, or the ability to structure their own hours.

If you’ve offered more flexibility during the pandemic, think about maintaining those policies or asking employees their thoughts on new schedules. “The pandemic has allowed employers to see that they’re able to have these policies. And not only the paid family leave, but the remote work and the flexibility. And I think just will become a silver lining coming out of all of this,” said Greszler.

3. Paid-time off.

Paid-time off is useful for parents, who need the time to care for an infant or an ill loved one. President Biden’s American Families Plan includes $225 billion to create a paid medical and family leave program. The program would eventually guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave, and providing a federal subsidy for workers of up to $4,000 per month. The Department of Labor found that 95 percent of the lowest-wage workers, mostly women and workers of color, lack any access to paid family leave, so the program is needed.

But to keep women in the workforce long term, you should offer both paid leave and increased flexibility, said Greszler, because paid family leave, while necessary may have a lower utility for women on a day-to-day basis than, say, malleable hours.

“I don’t think [a lack of] paid family leave is is holding women back,” said Greszler. “Women increasingly value flexibility far more than family leave.”

Even so, both policies can be done and the balance of the two may also help employees be more productive. In 2019, for example the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decided its generous 52-week paid parental leave policy was not working because too many workers would be out at the same time, creating more disruption that it was worth. Instead, the organization decided to offer half as much paid leave and a $20,000 stipend to new parents to help cover expenses and childcare.

Source: The Pandemic Led Many Women to Rethink Work. Here’s What They Want Most From Employers | Inc.com

.

Related Contents:

Statistical Overview of Women in Global Workplaces: Catalyst Quick Take

How women can make money married or single, in all branches of the arts and sciences, professions, trades, agricultural and mechanical pursuits

Why “Hard” Computing Tends to Exclude Women

Women in informal employment as share of female employment

What percentage of the US public approves of working wives

Vocational and business training to improve women’s labour market outcomes

The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women’s Life Cycle Labor Supply

Women and Men at Work

Finally, a book that talks about gender-neutral workplace

An Analysis of Unreported Family Workers

Do Women’s and Men’s Labor Market Outcomes Differentially Affect Real Wage Growth and Inflation

Women’s Safety and Health Issues at Work

 

%d bloggers like this: