Few people were left untouched by the pandemic that hit America like a tidal wave in March 2020, but parents, especially moms, were affected more than most. With daycares and schools closed, they not only had to take on the role of teacher, but some also had to come up with a way to manage their day-to-day job while caring for their children who were stuck at home for an undecided amount of time.
As a result of the pandemic, unemployment rates rose significantly, with levels not seen since data collection started in 1948 (14.7% in April), according to the Congressional Research Service. Women, more than men, were directly impacted, as a result of having to care for their children without access to daycare, schools and outside-of-the-home caregivers.
In September 2020 alone, a whopping 865,000 women left the workforce—four times the amount of men. And, of all the jobs eliminated in the first wave of layoffs post-pandemic, approximately 60% were women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor.
"Women who have experienced unemployment can face not only financial worry, which causes considerable stress and uncertainty but also an identity crisis," explains Emily Guarnotta, a licensed clinical psychologist in Merrick, New York who specializes in working with new parents.
Such was the case for Jennifer Goddard, of Brooklyn, New York, whose family experienced an extraordinary hardship when she lost her job as associate vice president of communications for Barnard College just after her husband lost his in March.
"The physical transition of being at home with my husband and young son was seamless, but it was a tremendous shock emotionally and financially to suddenly go from being very secure in making rent to scraping together savings," Goddard tells Motherly. "I'd always led the charge when it came to ensuring that my son's special education needs were met by his school, but with him being at home and learning remotely, I became his paraprofessional teacher on top of focusing on our own very real challenges of affording basics like rent and food all while looking for a new job in a very tough market with millions of others competing for fast-disappearing work."
If there was one saving grace during this very difficult time, Goddard says it's knowing that she and her family are not the only ones facing such challenges and that many others are navigating the same tough waters. "I'm pragmatic and comfortable with the fact that a portion of my paychecks were taken for the unemployment assistance that I'm now asking for." Like so many unemployed parents in the midst of a global crisis, Goddard is relying heavily on the myriad of resources available out there.
Here are some resources that unemployed parents can take advantage of right now.
1. Skill Up
This newly launched non-profit organization was created with the goal of helping Americans who have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing them with access to training as well as new employment opportunities. To get started, Skill Up prompts users with a brief quiz to help identify opportunities that are the best fit for their skillset and interest.
"The site also includes information on applying for unemployment insurance and finding affordable healthcare, housing, and food," adds Dr. Guarnotta.
2. Project Hope
This humanitarian relief organization has been around since 1958, but parents are relying on it more than ever before. They have created a crisis hotline that is available to anyone struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and is in need of support.
"Crisis counselors are trained to provide emotional support, resources, and referrals," says Dr. Guarnotta. "Although these counselors cannot provide help finding employment, they can provide a safe space to talk and guidance on how to cope, which can be invaluable."
The hotline is available seven days a week from 8am to 10pm and the service is both free and confidential.
This wonderful organization helps women find success in the workforce by providing free resources and a safe, inclusive environment where women can forge professional and personal friendships that can help them achieve their goals. There is no fee to use their platform and they offer a bevy of virtual events along with their career connections.
This organization saw the intense need for resources that provide social support long before the pandemic, which is why they set out on their mission to help single moms afford better housing for their children in school districts that enhanced their opportunities.
They match mothers for home-sharing based on a careful process that weighs factors including their personality and values. This allows both single parents to not only raise their children without the sting of loneliness, but also to have the financial benefits of married couples.
The online education technology company, which allows users to stream on-demand video lectures from top instructors in a myriad of subjects from business and computer science to language learning and culinary arts, is offering free access to unemployed workers, even giving them the ability to earn credits.
They've dubbed this program their "Workforce Recovery Initiative" and it is in partnership with various state and local governments as well as several countries around the world. This serves as a wonderful opportunity for parents to brush up on their skillset or even inch closer to certain degrees and/or qualifications while they're looking for new roles.
Brooke Markevicius founded Allobee two years ago after witnessing pitfalls for mothers in the gig economy, freelancing and running a business. But her organization has never been more in need than now, with so many mothers leaving the workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They help all people, parents and mothers included, find flexible freelance jobs that fit their schedule and take care of the job pairing, handling all connections and payments, so that applicants can focus on their work.
If you are dealing with a COVID-related layoff in your family, in particular, Allobee will push your application off the waitlist and give you a free one-year membership to their content.
Following the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Scarlett Lewis founded this wonderful organization inspired by her 6-year-old son Jesse who passed away that dreadful day in December. The goal of The Choose Love Moment is to provide social and emotional learning and character education to anyone in need.
In light of the pandemic, The Choose Love Movement has responded by ramping up their vast educational offerings which are at no cost for educators, parents at home and communities.
"These essential life skills, such as learning to manage emotions, relationship skills, and resilience can be taught in the classroom, but traditionally home is a great place, too!" says Lewis. "With programming specifically for parents and children, they can learn about a powerful formula, the Choose Love Formula, that comprises courage, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion-in-action, and can help both children and adults during times of difficulty."For more information regarding national COVID-19 resources for children and parents, please visit Childcare.gov.