Daily school delays leaving working parents in bind

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 27, 2014) — The nearly daily delay of schools in January has left many parents in a serious bind, frustratingly deciding what to do with their children and their jobs.

The issue is especially difficult for two-income families and single parents, so FOX59 News sought out advice from the experts at online parenting magazine IndyWithKids.com.

While some parents are frustrated that school is being delayed because of low temperatures, Katy Mann with IndyWithKids.com said most of the concerns she has heard involve when school corporations are making their decisions and the sheer amount of delays and cancellations experienced this winter.

When it comes to one’s employer, Mann recommended trying as best you can to plan ahead and communicate.  Ask what your employer’s policy is when it comes to these situations and try to see how they might be willing to accommodate your predicament, while expressing how you too would rather be in at your regular time, she said.

For shift work, Mann said speaking with your colleagues might be the best bet.  If someone at work does not have kids, she suggested trying to work out partial shift coverage, if that’s at all possible.

Also at the top of parents’ list is what to do with their kids if they absolutely must be at work on time, which is the case for many people.

“Check into the before and after school program at your local YMCA, look at the at-your-school programs, and see what their drop-in program is,” she said.  “Maybe you can register ahead of time and use the service when you need it.”

Another option is building a network of parents in your neighborhood.

“Gather together with a bunch of parents.  Build that village that everyone always talks about and take turns throwing in a hand.  If you have a chance that you can help out and give a kid a ride to school or make sure a kid gets on the bus, then take that opportunity,” Mann said.

“When you need it, ask another parent to step in for you.  Really, it’s connecting with the people at your school bus stop.  It’s connecting with the other parents in your community.  [T]hat’s hard, but it’s something that we have to do to make sure our kids get to where they need to get.”

Some parents will consider allowing their kids to stay home alone, but Mann said that decision is very much based on a child’s individual readiness and parents’ comfort level.

“Really just see are they doing the things they need to do when they’re home.  Are they making wise decisions?  Are they doing what you asked them?  Are they fulfilling their responsibilities when they’re home before you even think about leaving them?”

Both state and federal child welfare services have brochures that deal with the issue of leaving your child at home and include other helpful questions to review while parents make their decision.

Mann stressed, however, that it’s important to make these decisions and have the proper discussions ahead of time, rather than in the morning when you find out about another school delay.

Helpful links:

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana’s Guide to when it’s okay to leave your child home alone

Child Welfare Information Gateway: When it’s okay to leave your child home alone

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