The Perils of Ever-Changing Work Schedules Extend to Children’s Well-Being

Kris Buchmann of Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLE) and Carrie Gleason of the Center for Popular Democracy speak about the impact of unfair scheduling on children in today’s NYTimes:

“Although the workers directly affected by unpredictable schedules are the most obvious winners [from recent reforms], the biggest beneficiaries of a change in the practice could be their children. A growing body of research suggests that children’s language and problem-solving skills may suffer as a result of their parents’ problematic schedules.”

Kris Buchmann of Albuquerque worked a retail job at a local mall when her son, now 3 ½, was about 1 year old. She said she was frequently scheduled for on-call shifts that never materialized or that lasted less than an hour when they did.

“I still had to pay a babysitter,” said Ms. Buchmann, who is active in a New Mexico organizing group called Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, or OLÉ. “Sometimes I would have to go pick her up, take her back to my house because she didn’t have transportation, drive to work, get sent home, still have to pay her, and drive her home.”

Another key issue was access to quality child care. Children whose mothers worked nonstandard schedules during their first year of life were significantly less likely to be enrolled in professional day care centers throughout early childhood. This type of child care setting, she noted in the paper, tends to be associated with better cognitive development than informal arrangements like relying on extended family members, a frequent alternative.

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