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Care@Work / Care@Work Blog / We Can't Stop a Government Shutdown, But Backup Care Can Protect Our Employees When Care Plans Fall Through

We Can't Stop a Government Shutdown, But Backup Care Can Protect Our Employees When Care Plans Fall Through

Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan on January 24, 2018 09:17 AM

When the government shuts down, it affects all of us, but it really hits home for the thousands of military and federally-employed families whose child care arrangements were shut down with the rest of the government. 

Those families could breathe a collective sigh of relief after President Trump signed Congress’s short-term spending bill reinstating funds to run the government through February 8.  But there’s no doubt that date looms heavy for them, with the recognition that another shutdown could occur - and backup care arrangements will need to be made ahead of time.    

While we can’t keep the government from shutting down, we can do more to protect our employees from the chaos that ensues when normal care arrangements fall through.  Backup Care benefits provide employees with the resources they need to secure quality coverage for their loved ones when their care arrangements change.  Be it with advance warning, or more often, with little to no warning at all.

Care Changes Impact an Employee’s Entire Family
A last-minute change in care sends shockwaves throughout an entire family.  Employees are faced with the prospect of having to take an unplanned day off of work (or look to a spouse or partner to compromise their work schedule to accommodate), scramble to piece together care from family, friends and neighbors, or navigate a distracted day working from home.  Uncertainty and changes in routine can leave kids feeling worried and stressed.    

Not only does Backup Care give working parents the resources they need to show up to work, but also the peace of mind they need to combat the unpredictable, the unknown, and the worry.  Ultimately, it enables them to perform at their very best.  And being at their best extends to both the job at the office, and the job at home. 

RELATED: Employee Stories: Backup Care’s Got My Whole Family’s Back

Why Backup Care is a Must-Have Employee Benefit
Societal and demographic changes over the past several decades have left today’s families needing reliable, affordable Backup Care more than ever before. According to Pew Research Center, “the share of two-parent households in which both parents work full-time now stands at 46 percent, up from 31 percent in 1970.” And as single-parent households rise, so does the associated burden of securing and funding child care, particularly, when emergency coverage is needed.

Employees want help from their employers.  Results from the 2017 Cost of Care survey revealed that while 44 percent of working parents say their employer seems to care about their child care needs, an overwhelming majority – 85 percent wish their employer offered child care benefits, such as discounted child care and access to Backup Care.  The need is real, as is the desire for employers to play a leading role in providing care support. 

And How Employers Benefit from Providing It
The cost of absenteeism to businesses and the larger economy is staggering.  U.S. businesses alone forgo more than $33.6 billion annually due to lost productivity caused by caregiving-related absenteeism. And child care issues, specifically, account for 72 percent of absences – more than any other family matter. It puts that seemingly “periodic” lost work day due to a sitter cancellation, school snow day, or sick child in serious perspective for employers – and their bottom line.

A recent Akamai case study examining how Backup Care helped combat absenteeism and promote diversity, found that the cost to the company for a day of Backup Care was far less than the average daily salary of a software engineer’s salary.  And when it comes to retention, Akamai estimates that if only one or two employees who might have chosen to leave ultimately stays, the costs of a Backup Care program are more than fully recouped. 

We’re not certain when the next government shutdown will be, nor do we know when our child will spike a fever, the daycare center’s power is down, or our nanny’s car needs to go to the shop.  But we do know that Backup Care can help.  And that goes for employee and employer alike. 

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Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan

As Director, Sales and Marketing at, Heidi is responsible for developing innovative, results-driven programs for Care@Work – a consumer-centered portfolio of family care for employers and their diverse workforce. Passionate about helping HR professionals improve the lives of their employees, Heidi follows and writes about the top trends and research impacting both employees and employers in the workplace, including the future of work, consumerism and HR, building employer brands, pay equity and paid leave policy, and company culture. Prior to joining, Heidi led marketing teams at a variety of technology companies including Constant Contact. She lives north of Boston with her husband Brian and their “daughter” Lexi – a 10 lb. Shih-Tzu therapy dog.