Dear Anyone Working in the Federal or State Governments on Sick Days, Snow Days, Maternity Leave, and Childcare:
There is much talk about how working people need to get paid for sick days and how hard it is for new parents, in particular new mothers, or mothers in general of young children, to go back to work, or for that matter, to work at all.
Childcare, as everyone knows, is expensive. To send one child to 5 days of childcare at a great program can be anywhere from $7K-$15K per year per child just so that you can go to work. Welcome to paying for private school right out of the womb, when you never even factored that into your budget during your early marriage years.
For those of us taking advantage of public schools, we are at a great disadvantage in the winter when any snowflake falls, or rain becomes slushy and "Snow Days" are called, or "2hr Morning Delays with Pre-K Canceled". This puts a huge wrench into the working parent's schedule and forces them to either take a sick day, or come in late. Or if they are a small business owner like myself who works from her home office, miss the day entirely. A day which I never get paid for as a "sick day".
The public school's quickness to cancel schools has a ripple effect that encourages people to enroll their children into private systems, which are for-profit businesses, which do not close when one snowflake falls. I live in New York, but you'd think I lived in Florida, when we wake up with a light dusting on the ground, and the email shown above is sent to us from the School Superintend at 5am, drastically altering our plans for the work day. There is no babysitter to call at the last minute, and a drop-off center may be far away. Not to mention the added cost. [NOTE: I actually can't find links, in a quick 1-minute Google search, that discuss the large amount of school closings, as they all boast about New York City not closing schools for snow. In the past two years that I've been in the system, this has not been true outside of the city in the rest of the state, and surrounding states.]
Because of this quickness to cancel schools, our child is enrolled in our daycare's UPK (Universal Pre Kindergarten) program, where she can go to Pre-K at her usual daycare free from 8:30-11:30am. We then have the choice to continue with the full day of "wrap around care", where she can have lunch, nap and play until 5:30pm. However, children enrolled in UPK do follow the public school's cancellation schedule. So when Beacon Public Schools cancel, my child cannot attend her Pre-K with the other kids. Unless she was additionally enrolled in full time daycare, or if she's not (as she's not this year...only does two days in full time daycare), we can pay $15 for her to attend the 8:30-11:30am period for that snow day.
So instead of sticking it to the employer, and blaming employers for not paying for sick days, or not making it easy for working parents, please take a look inward at these cancellation policies of school districts, and encourage individual school districts to operate like a successful business who stays open.