Special Segment: Family Balancing Act

May 19, 2009 9:02:58 PM PDT
The economic crisis means new challenges for parents who are juggling not only their family responsibilities, but also holding a job outside of the home. Many parents are finding that making ends meet is a family balancing act.

It's the talk of the Welles Park playground.

The weak economy means hard choices for moms like Marla Williams. Last week, she had to pick up a part time job.

"It's kind of necessary right now, to find something that you can do," said Williams.

Anthony Porreca can't find a construction job so he's helping at home while his wife is at work.

"It's just so hard to find a job right now. For the most part, yeah, I just stay at home, and raise my twins, and do the best I can," said Porreca.

"I couldn't pass up the money," said Tracy Stronsky.

Tracy Stronsky planned to take a longer maternity leave but a month after she had her daughter she went back to work.

"Most of my friends have actually gone back to work part time or full time," said Stronsky.

"It's a lot to balance," said Dr. Lisa Gordon.

Northwestern University psychologist Dr. Lisa Gordon says some moms are worried about taking too much time off for maternity leave.

"Work is functioning without them there, and certainly no one wants for a company to get used to that, they don't want it to be too easy without their position there," said Dr. Gordon.

Joanne Brundage runs a national support group for mothers. She says some new moms are rushing back to work.

"Women are having to make choices that they hadn't planned on," said Joanne Brundage. "They want to spend time with their kids and taking care of their families but you know, things are so economically shaky that you have to make sure that you've got food on the table."

The non-profit Families and Work Institute says only 16 percent of employers offer full pay while moms are on maternity leave. That can add to the pressures on new families.

"Moms are left in a position where they can't take as much leave as they would like to," said LeVon Harris.

After she had her daughter, LeVon Harris started a baby planning business. She says now because of the economy some of her clients are working until right before their due date and then trying to get back to work as soon as possible.

"It's really hard for moms to figure out how to balance being a mom as well as being a good employee," said Harris.

It's a balancing act that families know all too well.

"I probably would have stayed home, but then again, I still may have to. I'm not sure if I can find a job out there right now," said Casey Wonio.

While the economy may make some anxious about taking maternity leave, federal law guarantees time off.

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, new moms who work for the government, a school or an employer with 50 or more workers can take 12 weeks off -- unpaid -- without fear of losing their jobs.

Expectant moms should ask their employer about what benefits are provided.

For more information, please visit the following Web sites:

Family and Medical Leave Act fact sheet: www.dol.gov/esa/WHD/regs/compliance/whdfs28.pdf

FMLA details: www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/

Families and Work Institute 2008 Survey of Employers: familiesandwork.org/3w/2008nse.pdf


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