Working Parents Unable To Choose Between Jobs, Kids According To Survey

By Jim Bea Sampaga

Working parents are facing an impossible choice between work and kids as public schools are planning to do partial distance learning according to a survey by Hawai’i Afterschool Alliance and Hawai’i Children’s Action Network (HCAN).

Surveyed 721 parents with children under 18 years old online from July 8 to 17, the results showed that the majority of the respondents won’t be able to work while their kids are at home.

“For our children to be successful, parents will need support,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of HCAN, in the press release. “Distance learning is about to begin again, and we urgently need to find a way to allow working parents to care for their kids.”

Respondents expressed their concerns in balancing work hours with their children’s distant learning schedules. Sixty-one percent of the respondents said their employer wouldn’t offer flexible hours that will match with their family’s access to school and childcare. While 73% with children that go to multiple schools were concerned there will be conflicts with their schools’ schedules.

Assuming that schools are practicing the appropriate safety measures, most of the respondents prefer that there is at least some in-person learning for their children. Forty-two percent prefer all in-percent learning, 35% prefer a mix of in-person and distance learning while 23% prefer all distance-learning.

However, if in-person learning resumes, 96% said they would be “concerned about their children’s physical health” according to the press release.

Upon returning to school in fall, 87% said their children would need extra academic support. While 91% said they were concerned about their children’s social-emotional well-being.

With public schools mostly planning to do distance learning, parents worry about the devices their children need to use to learn and study. Over a third of families in the survey said they don’t have the right devices and internet access to accommodate their children for distance learning.

Sixty-five percent said it’s unlikely for their family to be able to provide learning and technological support to their child if distance learning continues in the fall.

While 37% said they don’t have enough devices to support distance learning. Majority of them, 85%, said they were comfortable borrowing a device from their school. Those who selected that they were not comfortable stated that they don’t have internet access. They were also worried about charging devices and being unable to look after their children while using the devices.

“It’s clear that parents, caregivers, and children are going to need support from across the community as schools reopen,” said Zysman in the press release.

“Time is running out to address these issues before they become yet another crisis for the state.”

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