TEDMED Great Challenges Caregiver Crisis, Peter Arno: Question #5 Response
Supporting Employees Caring for a Child with Special Needs: Are Seven Paid Days Enough? Deborah Viola, PhD A presentation given at Care.com on June 20, 2012 www.care.com/workplacesolutions
Key points from www.caregiving.org• 53% of caregivers were currently employed, 35% working full time and 18% part time• Caregivers of children are 3 times as likely as those caring for an adult to have had some of the more severe impacts on their employment situation: cutting hours or taking a less demanding job giving up work, and losing benefits• According to their caregivers, the top 5 main problems or illnesses for which child recipients need care are: attention deficit disorder Autism mental/emotional illness mental retardation asthma
Question 1:Why are caregiver support programs important to bothemployers and employees?Lost time and productivity is a lose-lose; given theprevalence of autism, as an example, it is difficult to imaginea work-force free of parental caregivers of children withspecial needs.
Question 2:What are the key elements of a successful caregiversupport program?This should come as no surprise, but they are similar to keyelements advocated on behalf of caregivers of spouses andelder parents, but the lens is different. Parental caregiversare caregivers for life and the emphasis on a sustainableprogram is paramount.
Question 3:What are the key employer benefits to providing such aprogram?Improved productivity and workplace morale may beobvious. But consideration and development of theseprograms may also encourage introspection and renewedthinking about policies related to domesticviolence, substance abuse, and work place harassment. Inall cases, employees require flexibility, time away from thework-site, and assurance that they are still valued by theemployer. This is in part the intent of the “Healthy FamiliesAct” (S. 984) introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) May2011.
“Healthy Families Act” (S. 984)But are seven days paid leave enough?This is what you are being asked to consider and discuss ontoday’s webinar- number of days, flexible workschedules, health care plans that provide reimbursement forspecial services required by these children and families.
If you need peer-reviewed evidence….In a recently published study researchers found on averagethat “children with ASD are 9% less likely to have bothparents working….family earnings are 21% ($10, 416) lessthan those of families with another health limitation and 28%($17, 763) less than those of children with no healthlimitations. Family weekly hours of work are an average of 5hours less than those of children with no health limitation.”Cidav, Z, Marcus SC, Mandell DS. Pediatrics, Vol 129, No4, April 2012.
So what can you do:Flex time, job sharing, temporary or permanent switchto part-time, telecommuting, parental leave, familymedical leave, flexible emergency leave, employeehealth benefits, child care onsite/offsite orreimbursement.Resources:The Community Tool Box is a service of the Work Group forCommunity Health and Development at the University ofKansas, http://ctb.ku.edu/Family-Friendly Leave Policies from the U.S. Office of PersonalManagement Compensation Administration. Texts of the Family andMedical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA); Federal Employees FamilyFriendly Leave Act (1994); Federal Leave Sharing (1994); and otherfamily-friendly laws, http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/fflafact.htm
Deborah Viola, PhDAssociate ProfessorAssociate Director, Doctoral ProgramDepartment of Health Policy & ManagementNew York Medical College, School of HealthSciences and Practicedeborah_viola@nymc.eduDrPH Program & resources:http://bit.ly/gXD3NYhttp://bit.ly/e9c4RqCenter for Long Term Care Research & Policy, SHSP,Institute for Public HealthCenter site: www.nymc.edu/shsp/