Nationally, the responsibility of caring for children has largely fallen upon women. A 2004 survey indicated there are 5.6 million stay-at-home moms and 143,000 stay-at-home dads. Statistics indicate that there are more then 10 million single mothers who are often forced to make difficult choices between work and childcare.
Many households face challenges when balancing finances, professional fulfillment, and childcare. Research indicates that in the United States 51 percent of all first-time mothers return to work within just four months, while 67 percent of mothers whose oldest child is age 3-5 were actively in the labor force.
In Juneau, many residents have experienced firsthand the childcare crunch-trying to access professional and affordable childcare services while meeting other household expenses. These needs are often very difficult to reconcile. Barbara Belknap, Juneau NOW President, said, "Juneau NOW is participating in the national NOW Mothers Matter campaign because so many working mothers in our community are desperate for affordable childcare. Many can't find childcare at all. If we want young families to stay in Juneau, we must have family-friendly policies at the city, state and federal levels. Our intention is to begin a dialog about the action necessary to help our working moms."
In an effort to balance their professional and familial roles, many women are seeking to negotiate flexible work schedules, seeking on site childcare providers, and joining businesses that have paid family leave options.
Over the years the National Organization for Women has advocated for women and family-friendly policies, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Their current campaigns-such as the women-friendly workplace and the mothers matter, caregivers count initiatives-are being promoted to ensure that the value of family care is recognized by employers and politicians.
Juneau Now will be holding a forum open to the public from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct.10, at Valley Library Meeting Room. Experts will include representatives from AWARE, Montessori Schools, AEYC, and Catholic Community Services, Representative Andrea Doll, City Assembly member Sara Chambers and Nadine Lefebvre of the Alaska State Employees Union.
For information, go online to www.juneaunow.org.