Working Parents: What Factors Are Involved in Their Ability to Take Time Off From Work When Their Children Are Sick? | Pediatrics | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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Article
August 1999

Working Parents: What Factors Are Involved in Their Ability to Take Time Off From Work When Their Children Are Sick?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass (Dr Heymann and Ms Toomey); and the Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Dr Furstenberg).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999;153(8):870-874. doi:10.1001/archpedi.153.8.870
Abstract

Background  A series of studies has demonstrated that sick children fare better when their parents are present.

Objective  To examine working conditions that determine whether parents can spend time with and become involved in the care of their children when they are sick.

Design  Survey with a multivariate analysis of factors influencing parental care of sick children.

Participants  Mixed-income urban working parents aged 26 to 29 years participating in the Baltimore Parenthood Study.

Results  Only 42% of working parents in our sample cared for their young children when they became sick. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to predict which parents stayed at home when their children were sick. Those parents who had either paid sick or vacation leave were 5.2 times as likely to care for their children themselves when they were sick. Of parents with less than a high school education, 17% received paid leave, compared with 57% of parents with a general equivalency diploma, 76% of parents with a high school diploma, and 92% of parents with more than a high school education (P<.001).

Conclusions  The finding that many parents were unable to care for their sick children themselves is important for pediatric care. While low-income children are more likely to face marked health problems and to be in need of parental care, they are more likely to live in households in which parents lack paid leave and cannot afford to take unpaid leave.

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