Headline after headline in the past two weeks has highlighted a secondary effect of the COVID-19 crisis: working parents and their children are not all right. In fact, we’re all profoundly overwhelmed and entering a now chronic issue created by the conflict of work and childcare demands — particularly women, who are more likely than men to take on childcare responsibilities. Full-time working mothers in two-parent households are on average doing 22 hours of childcare a week during COVID-19, in addition to maintaining their jobs, according to a recent Northwestern University research paper.
We hear and feel more pressure to return to pre-COVID work levels while seeing the news of large employers closing offices through 2020, alerts confirming our summer camps won’t be in session, daycares sharing updates that they’re opening with reduced hours, and even more alarmingly, some of our schools considering staggering our children’s schedules come Fall 2020. The question isn’t “Are we okay?” anymore, it’s what do we do with our children, and what do we say to our managers?
A recent study conducted by Cleo of its international membership of working parents with children up to five years old brought this crisis to life with some staggering results, including:
- >50% don’t have childcare currently.
- 20% of working parents surveyed said that either they or their partner are considering leaving the workforce to care for their children.
- 37% of working parents surveyed are considering having family move in with them.
- 16% of working parents surveyed are considering packing up and moving closer to family.
As moms and leaders of teams of working parents ourselves, the challenge isn’t statistical to us, it's immediate. We were eager to find a solution that would work for ourselves and spent time experimenting and “child-fooding” everything from virtual care to scheduling shifts to looking for new caregivers ourselves. We realized we needed to embrace the fact that this challenge would require a new model of childcare designed for the unique issues COVID-19 has created.
What We Learned
- Virtual childcare doesn’t cut it. Virtual childcare sounds amazing, but it doesn’t work for our little ones — especially children under 5. One of our many experiments resulted in one of our youngest children covering himself in paint.
- Fear and anxiety exist across families and providers. Fear is high on both sides — for sitters, nannies and for parents — around health and safety. Our own team is nervous about bringing someone into our homes and care providers want to make sure that they’re supporting healthy families.
- Parents don’t have the time or resources to find a solution. Working parents are so busy juggling family and work life just to stay afloat that they don’t have time to look, vet, and manage the childcare search.
- Accessibility and affordability play a crucial role. The economy is putting even more pressure on families and we all need accessible, affordable childcare.
- Children’s developmental milestones are a top priority. We are growing increasingly concerned about our kids’ development as this moves from a temporary situation to the “new normal.” We want to give our children the care, attention and enriching activities they need to learn and thrive.
These insights and our experiments helped us develop a unique solution that combines parent and care provider support with connections to like-minded families and care providers.
They say if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it. When you take two busy working moms who are both running companies from home and juggling never-ending family duties, it's amazing just how quickly you can produce a great outcome. From the moment we started brainstorming, our partnership felt like a natural fit. By combining Cleo's expertise in creating programming for families and giving parents the expert support they need right when they need it, and UrbanSitter's platform of trusted childcare providers, we can deliver a solution that allows parents to finally get the affordable and flexible support they need.
Introducing Cleo Care, powered by UrbanSitter
Available to launch to employers this month, Cleo Care powered by UrbanSitter is a unique program that creates affordable childcare options for parents through family “Co-Op” matching and concierge caregiver matching. Member families will also receive weekly programs and 1:1 coaching from Cleo’s expert network of child development specialists, including milestone-focused programs that help parents, care providers, and their children stay on track with enriching activities and tips.
Cleo Care powered by UrbanSitter will be available to U.S. employers to serve their working parent populations this month, and includes:
- Concierge Support for Vetted, Personalized Caregiver Matching: Member parents will receive support from Cleo to find safe, vetted care providers from UrbanSitter’s network, helping families save the days (and weeks) associated with finding and vetting care that matches their unique requirements.
- Co-Op Matching: Families interested in partnering with a like-minded local family to support one another with or without an additional care provider will be supported in finding a match within the Cleo member network.
- Weekly Programs and 1:1 Care Provider Support: All parents and care providers will have access to Cleo’s expert, one-on-one parent coaching, as well as age-appropriate developmental based programs delivered weekly to keep children busy and on track with their developmental milestones.
We’re beginning pilots this month with large employer clients, and would love to design a solution for you and your parent population. If you’re a working parent, we’d also love to hear from you and see if we can help. Learn more about Cleo and UrbanSitter’s solution at: hicleo.com/cleo-care.
by Sarahjane Sacchetti, CEO of Cleo & Lynn Perkins, CEO & Co-founder of UrbanSitter