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1 Setting the Stage A mong the many transformations that have occurred in the American family over the past 30 years, few are as dramatic as the increased rates of paid employment and changing patterns of work among mothers with children. From 1970 to 2000, overall mater- nal labor force participation rates rose 79 percent (from 38 to 68 percent); for mothers with the youngest children, birth to age 3, this rate more than doubled (from 24 to 58 percent). This trend has held for mothers in a wide variety of circumstances--first-time mothers and never-married mothers, for example--and across demographic categories, including family income, education, race and ethnicity, and place of residence. During this same period, the availability and use of nonparental child care also has increased, both in response to trends in parental employment and as a result of growing public confidence in a variety of care arrange- ments. Research documenting the benefits of early childhood educational interventions and of after-school programs for early adolescents, particu- larly for those from low-income families, has helped persuade municipal governments, state legislatures, and the federal government to invest more in these programs. Public policies that support parental employment are a diverse lot. Some reduce the tax burden or increase the tax credit for certain working families (for example, the federal earned income tax credit). Others subsidize child care or improve its quality. As well as responding to employment trends, a number of these policies are likely also to encourage parents who were not working to enter the labor force; policies that help parents find and pay for child care are an example. The recent devolution 11
12 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS of certain public responsibilities for child and family well-being from the federal government to the states also has created opportunities to develop innovative strategies that respond to local employment conditions. Although states and localities have increasingly become engaged in supporting working families, many consider two pieces of federal legisla- tion, in addition to the expansion of the earned income tax credit noted above, as pivotal in this regard. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 established, for the first time, the rights of certain workers to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a newborn or a newly adopted child, or for ill or disabled family members. Enacted in 1996, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) made cash assistance for poor families, for the first time, con- tingent on employment or participation in activities to prepare single moth- ers for work. These policies have helped bring the domains of work, family life, and child well-being into unavoidably close contact. These are dramatic societal changes in parental employment, particu- larly of mothers, in the range of options available to them to care for their children while they are at work, in public sentiment about the advisability of these arrangements, in policies that support working families, and in the knowledge base about environmental factors that promote child and ado- lescent development. They raise questions about the effects of parent em- ployment and employment-related policies on the well-being of children and adolescents. In November 2001, the National Academies, with support from a con- sortium of private foundations, established the Committee on Family and Work Policies to address these questions. COMMITTEE CHARGE The Committee on Family and Work Policies is comprised of an inter- disciplinary group of individuals with expertise in several relevant fields, including sociology, economics, public policy, business, early child develop- ment and care, adolescent development and care, demography, psychology, and anthropology. It was asked to review, synthesize, and characterize available research on the roles of working parents, other caregivers, and caregiving arrangements in promoting the health and development of chil- dren and adolescents. The committee explored the range of policies and benefits that support working families and their implications for child and adolescent well-being. Of particular interest were policies of four types: policies that impose work requirements on parents (such as TANF), policies that require work as a condition of receiving benefits (such as the earned income tax credit), policies that support care arrangements for the children
SETTING THE STAGE 13 of working parents, and policies that grant job-protected family and medi- cal leave to employees. In order to address these issues, the committee relied on recent ad- vances in research on child care and development; adolescent care and development; effects of employment on parents and on child and adolescent development; research on current programmatic supports for child and adolescent development; and ethnographic research on working families. SCOPE OF THE STUDY The committee's primary focus is the area of overlap among four spheres of interest (see Figure 1-1): work patterns and experiences of work- ing parents; developmental needs of children and adolescents; support avail- able to families; and the roles of parents and caregivers. Our foremost priority is to understand the implications of work on the well-being of children and adolescents in working families. Work Patterns and Experiences of Working Parents Developmental Needs of Children and Adolescents Support Available to Families The Role of Parents and Caregivers FIGURE 1-1 Four spheres of interest.
14 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS Population of Concern The committee considered the experiences of working families across economic, cultural, and social contexts, given that all families face chal- lenges in meeting the demands of work and parenting. But early on, com- mittee members acknowledged that families with low incomes face particu- lar challenges in managing these two spheres of their lives; this may be especially true for families in which the parents have been obliged to enter the labor force because of policies such as TANF. It also often appears to be the case that children in low-income families have the most to gain from high-quality care arrangements, both in preschool and school-age settings. We therefore chose to pay special attention to this subgroup, as researchers continue to debate the implications of welfare reform, a strong economy, and such policies as the earned income tax credit for the well-being of families and their children (Joint Center for Poverty Research, 2000). Poverty in single-mother families has fallen dramatically in the period after the passage of welfare reform, and many poor families on welfare have shown that they are capable of supporting themselves by working (Haskins, 2001). But that does not mean the end of hardship. Even though poverty rates and the number of children in poverty declined, there is some evidence that rates of extreme poverty did not decline as fast as the overall poverty rate, and there are many challenges for those who manage to escape poverty and leave welfare through work. The committee sought to develop a comprehensive and representative description of the experience of these families. Recent qualitative investiga- tions, especially those that have collected data from TANF participants, help to contextualize the findings on the experience of low-income families reported later in this report. Not surprisingly, the qualitative evidence indicates that jobs held by low-income workers often pay among the lowest wages allowable by law. Furthermore, adults who earn low wages report difficulties making ends meet (Nicolas and Baptiste, 2001; Lengyel and Campbell, 2002). Research further reveals that for women moving from welfare to work, employment can actually worsen their financial position, given the added costs of trans- portation (car, insurance, gas, bus fare), work clothes, and child care (Edin and Lein, 1997; Hicks-Bartlett, 2000; Jarrett, 1994; Rosier, 2000). Al- though evidence shows that the wages of those leaving welfare rise with time on the job at about the same rate as other workers, opportunities to increase wages are sometimes limited, given that these workers largely hold unskilled and semiskilled jobs, such as cashiers at car washes (Rank, 1994), fast food attendants (Newman, 1999; Shook, 1999), nursing and home care attendants (Hicks-Bartlett, 2000; Oliker, 1995), circuit board testers, cleri- cal workers (Puntenney, 1999), laborers at recycling centers, and part-time
SETTING THE STAGE 15 A New Jersey mother of two who is working in a temporary job details a common plight (Amstutz, 2002:67): Now I'm getting Medicaid. I'm going to get taken off in February and then I will have to get New Jersey Kids Care but I won't have any benefits. I feel they should have something for parents too. You know, for working parents everybody needs health benefits. janitors (Reaves, 2000). These workers take on multiple low-paid or tem- porary jobs, sometimes combining formal and informal employment or work in the underground economy (Edin and Lein, 1997; Newman, 1999). Low-wage and part-time employment often lacks health benefits. The absence of critical benefits means that parents must pay out-of-pocket costs for attention to their own or their children's health (Jarrett, 1994; Newman, 1999) unless a source of free care is available. Others may forego medical treatment for short-term and chronic illnesses for themselves or their chil- dren (Amstutz, 2002; Edin and Lein, 1997). Rigid work schedules that fail to accommodate family and personal needs (such as unexpected illnesses, gaps in child care arrangements, paren- tal illnesses, long distance travel, disruptions in transportation) may further undermine job stability (Harris and Lengyel, 2002; Iversen, 2002). Work- ers may have limited flexibility to respond to family emergencies, such as a sick child or an appointment at school (Johnson, 2002). Jobs that require physical stamina characterize the work experience of some poor adults. These included ditch digging, construction, nursing, and home care assistance that requires heavy lifting (Hamer, 2001; Hicks- Bartlett, 2000). Long-term employment of this nature may compromise their health and future economic prospects. Poor adults may need to travel to employment in distant suburban areas that lack easily accessible public transportation. When public trans- portation is available, it can require several hours of travel. Moreover, poor adults rarely have reliable cars (Cook and Fine, 1995; Jarrett, 1994; Reaves, 2000; Thomlinson and Burrows, 2002; Young, 2000). The chal- lenges related to low-income work affect children and adolescents in nu- merous ways. Children lose time with their parents if their parents must hold multiple jobs or commute long distances (Cook and Fine, 1995; Edin and Lein, 1997). Employment may make it more difficult to ensure the safety of children on their way to or from school or on other excursions in their neighbor- hoods, and it may make protecting young children from violence, gangs, and drugs more of a challenge (Fordham, 1996; Hicks-Bartlett, 2000;
16 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS Oliker, 1995; Puntenney, 1999). With parents absent during daytime hours, children may become involved in risky behaviors, such as sexual activity, drugs, and gangs (Anderson, 1999; Cook and Fine, 1995; Hicks-Bartlett, 2000). These difficulties in the workplace and at home make obtaining and maintaining employment particularly challenging for low-income workers. They also make it hard to ensure the well-being of children and adolescents in these families. This disconnect is a fundamental challenge working families face as they attempt to simultaneously work and care for their children and adolescents (Adams and Rohacek, 2002; Adams et al., 2002a). Research Context During the past several decades, research in the neurobiological, behav- ioral, and social sciences has also dramatically altered the landscape for early childhood policy, service delivery, and childrearing in the United States. This research has led to major advances in understanding the many factors that influence child health and development. These scientific gains have generated a much deeper appreciation of the importance of early life experiences on the development of the brain and the unfolding of human behavior, and of the central role of early relationships as a source of either support and adaptation or risk and dysfunction (National Research Coun- cil and Institute of Medicine, 2000). There has also been an increased understanding of adolescent development and functioning, and as a result, a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with parental employment during adolescence (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002). This report builds on a foundation of work from the National Acad- emies on issues related to children, youth, and families. More than a decade ago, a report of the National Research Council--Work and Family: Policies for a Changing Work Force--examined changes in the composition of American families and the increased participation of women in the workforce (National Research Council, 1991). The report assessed the major areas of conflict between work and family responsibilities and pos- sible ways of easing them. It offered an ambitious agenda for employers and suggested the need for additional public policies. At about the same time, another report, called Who Cares for America's Children (National Research Council, 1990), considered the effects of nonmaternal care on children's development and recommended major changes to improve the quality, affordability, and accessibility of child care in the United States. It called for substantial increases in public funding for subsidies to support the use of quality child care by low-income families, expansion of Head Start and other compensatory preschool programs, and
SETTING THE STAGE 17 strengthening of the infrastructure of the child care system through ex- panded resource and referral services and other programs. A decade later, From Neurons to Neighborhoods (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000) summarized a large body of litera- ture on the scientific knowledge about the nature of early development and the role of early experiences. It made a series of recommendations for how public policies and childhood interventions could be brought into closer alignment with what science has to say about the essential needs of children and families. This current report brought together the findings of these three reports by urging federal policy makers to recognize the importance of strong, early relationships between young children and their parents and other caregivers. From Neurons to Neighborhoods also recommended supporting work- ing parents by expanding coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act to ensure that all working mothers and fathers have equal access to this ben- efit. The study committee that authored that report found that the then- current law, which provided three months of unpaid leave, was insufficient and recommended that paid family leave benefits be available for all fami- lies. Furthermore, the committee recommended that policy makers explore financial supports for low-income parents who meet the eligibility require- ments but do not take unpaid leave because they cannot afford to forego pay, even on a temporary basis. In keeping with its emphasis on supporting early family relationships, the committee also recommended that govern- ment leaders extend the amount of time that welfare recipients with very young children are excused from meeting the work requirements of recent welfare reform policies. In 2001 the National Academies published Community Programs to Promote Youth Development (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002). This report evaluated and integrated the science of adoles- cent health and development and made recommendations for design, imple- mentation, and evaluation of community programs for youth. It identified a set of personal and social assets that increase the healthy development and well-being of adolescents and facilitate a successful transition from child- hood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. The study committee con- cluded that continued exposure to positive experiences, settings, and people, as well as opportunities to gain and refine life skills (in families, community programs, schools, etc.) helps young people acquire these assets. Taken together, this group of reports reflects advances in theory, re- search, and practice in understanding how children and adolescents de- velop and the effects of everyday contexts on their development and well- being. They also focus needed attention on specific programs and policies, in both the public and private sectors, which influence parental behavior and well-being, including the extent to which parents are able to fulfill their
18 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS childrearing responsibilities. And each report, in its own way, insisted on enlarging the scope of investigation to include environments outside the family--workplaces, child care and after-school programs, neighborhoods, and communities. This present report has profited from these previous efforts. GUIDE TO THE REPORT This report is organized in three parts. Following this introduction, Part I summarizes trends in the areas of work and family patterns and the care of children and adolescents. Chapter 2 reviews current trends in employment patterns and family functioning among working families-- particularly working mothers--in the United States. It highlights various dimensions of work and family trends, including work schedules, parenting patterns, and family management. Chapter 3 describes the diverse patterns of child care use and details family expenditures on child care, the child care supply, and child care quality. Part II considers the effects of the trends described in Part I. Chapter 4 reviews the research on maternal employment and its effect on the family environment. Chapter 5 looks at early child care and child care settings during middle childhood and considers the effects of care on these children. Chapter 6 reviews the evidence on the effects of parental employment on a particular group of children--adolescents ages 12 to 18. And Chapter 7 reviews evidence on the effects of welfare reform on the family, with par- ticular attention to employment, earnings, poverty, fertility, and marriage, as well as their effects on children and adolescents. Part III highlights current public supports available to working families and describes possible next steps for promoting the positive development of care for children and adolescents in working families. Chapter 8 considers the public policies, including leave policies, tax policies, and education programs, as well as programs to assist families in paying for child care and their implications for child and adolescent well-being. Finally, Chapter 9 summarizes the committee's findings and presents possible options for pub- lic policy and research. For reference throughout the report, a list of acronyms is provided in Box 1-1.
SETTING THE STAGE 19 BOX 1-1 Acronym Full Title ACF Administration for Children and Families AFDC Aid to Families with Dependent Children CACFP Child and Adult Care Food Program CCDBG Child Care Development Block Grant CCDF Child Care and Development Fund CCLC 21st Century Community Learning Centers CDA Child Development Associate CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDCTC Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit CE Consumer Expenditure Survey CED Committeee for Economic Development CF The Children's Foundation CPC Chicago Child-Parent Centers CPS Current Population Survey CQO The Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study CTC Child Tax Credit DCAP Dependent Care Assistance Program DHHS Department of Health and Human Services ECERS Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale EHS Early Head Start EITC Earned Income Tax Credit FDCH Family Day Care Home FDCRS Family Day Care Rating Scale FMLA The Family and Medical Leave Act GAO General Accounting Office GED Graduate Equivalency Degree ITERS Infant Toddler Envirnoment Rating Scale MDRC Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation MFIP Minnesota Family Investment Program MOE Maintenance of Effort NAEYC National Association for the Education of Young Children NASF National Survey of Families NCCS The National Child Care Survey NCCSS National Child Care Staffing Study NICHD National Institute of Child Health and Human Develop- ment NLSY National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (continued)
20 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS BOX 1-1 Continued Acronym Full Title NSFH National Survey of Families and Households NYCAP New York State's Child Assistance Program OBRA Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ORCE Observational Record of the Caregiving Environment PCS Profile of Child Care Settings PDA Pregnancy Disability Act PLA Parental Leave Account PRWORA Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconcil- iation Act SACERS School-Aged Environment Rating SECC Study of Early Child Care SEM Structural Equation Modeling SES Socioeconomic Status SFSP Summer Food Service Program SIPP Survey of Income and Program Participation SSBG Social Services Block Grant SSP Canada's Self Sufficiency Project TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families TASC The After-School Corporation TDI Temporary Disability Insurance UEP Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning UI Unemployment Insurance USDA United States Department of Agriculture WRP Vermont's Welfare Restructuring Project YAA Younger Americans Act