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ICYMI: The Pandemic Is Forcing Women Out of the Workforce. There’s a Way to Fix That.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented families with unique challenges, from dealing with pandemic-related school closures, navigating virtual learning, accessing affordable child care, or all of the above. Unfortunately, the reality is that women in the workforce have faced the brunt of these obstacles, but the good news is: there’s a way to fix it.
 
The answer? Safely reopening more schools and allowing parents more control over the tax dollars spent on their child’s education will help alleviate some of these challenges. Committee Republicans and President Trump’s administration have actively supported both of these objectives and will continue to advocate for safe, in-person learning and educational freedom as this nation recovers from COVID-19.
 
The Dispatch recently published an article outlining these challenges and highlighting steps Congress can take to assist families in overcoming barriers that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Read more below:
 
The Pandemic Is Forcing Women Out of the Workforce. There’s a Way to Fix That.
…Many factors are changing Americans’ employment opportunities: economic shutdowns, reduced demand for some professions, and more. But caring for children is posing a specific challenge to working parents, particularly women who are often primary caregivers… In the short term, this new childcare burden highlights why American schools should reopen, particularly given the promising public health evidence that it is safe to do so…
 
The economic and educational cost of pandemic school closures. 
…For working parents, school closures and childcare shortages are creating significant challenges. Many are forced to choose between their jobs and providing care for their children, including supporting distance learning. Based on the September jobs reports, many appear to be choosing the latter. Unfortunately, the greatest hardship falls on lower-income families. Not only are they less likely to have the freedom to work from home or reduce their hours, they are less able to pay for creative education or childcare arrangements. 
 
Beyond these direct economic costs, there is growing evidence that pandemic-related school closures are creating significant learning losses for a generation of children with lasting consequences… The likely long-term consequences of these learning losses are staggering. For example, a recent OECD study estimated that school closures will result in a 1.5 percent loss of future GDP or a total economic cost of $15.3 trillion. 
 
The emerging public health evidence for reopening schools. 
These educational and economic costs of school closures are tragic, particularly given the growing evidence that they may be unnecessary to protect public health… We recommended safely reopening the nation’s schools by following public health guidance while also accommodating families, teachers, and school employees by providing maximum flexibility for those who believe it is unsafe to return to school…
 
The long-term opportunity to reform childcare programs to benefit working parents. 
Reopening American schools is a good first step. But addressing permanent childcare center closures poses a more complicated challenge for policymakers interested in improving the value of public preschool programs.
 
One promising solution is to reform existing taxpayer-funded preschool programs to give parents more flexibility over how their child’s preschool and childcare dollars are used, particularly as childcare centers are slow to reopen after the pandemic…
 
During the pandemic, giving parents control of this funding could increase access to childcare and keep some parents in the labor force.
 
Conclusion.
The rising number of American women leaving the workforce underscores why policymakers must compare the potential public health benefits of school closures with the long-term costs and develop better options for continuing life during the pandemic.
 
To read the full article from The Dispatch, click here