But there’s another group who need flexible work. And that’s parents of children with special needs.
When you’ve got a child living at home who doesn’t act the way a typical child would, in addition to the needs any child would have, you’ve got another big list of things that take extra time and money. And they can make work even more challenging.
Therapy. Special education. Medical bills. Fighting with insurance companies. Diapers well beyond the toddler years. Devices to make things more accessible. Emergency calls.
All these extra demands can make work more difficult to deal with.
How can you work when you can’t find a sitter who knows how to handle your child? Even if you can find someone willing, it may take weeks or months to train someone on how to administer medication or deal with routines. What do you tell your boss when your extremely rigid child needs to call you at work once an hour so he doesn’t have a breakdown? Can you even find a job that will allow you to be home when your kids get off the bus because your daughter needs you there? What if your child is not well enough to go to school, but his medical bills are close to bankrupting you, and getting even more expensive as his condition worsens?
Conventional medical insurance rarely covers everything. There are some government programs (such as Medicaid and Social Security) that can sometimes help in these situations, but even these come with eligibility requirements, and there are many people who fall through the cracks (such as those who make too much money to qualify for a program but whose medical bills eat up a large percentage of their incomes).
I don’t know the answers, and I don’t have any children with disabilities. But I know some people who do, and their lives aren’t easy. I would like to hope that employers would be accommodating. I would also hope employers could provide some extra help for parents with special needs, such as support groups, caregiving referral programs, or extra help with insurance needs.
So what are your experiences with employers and special-needs children? And how do you think employers could help?