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The Sloan Work and Family Research Network convened a one-day think tank at Boston College to examine the challenges facing working parents who care for children with disabilities


7/8/2008 - Boston, MA (The Sloan Work and Family Research Network) – On May 6, 2008, the Sloan Work and Family Research Network hosted a panel meeting at Boston College on “Work-Family Issues for Employed Parents of Children with Disabilities.” Given that 1 in 7 children under age 18 or approximately 10.2 million children in the U.S. have special health care needs, this annual conference explored how working parents coordinate their children’s medical and child care needs in addition to their work responsibilities. The conference addressed current research efforts, workplace best practices and existing public policy in order to develop an action plan for future change. This action plan will be released on the Sloan Work and Family Research Network’s Blog later this summer. For the past five years, the Sloan Work and Family Research Network – the premier online destination for work and family information – has convened panel meetings to promote discussion about important work-family issues from diverse disciplinary perspectives.

“Although considerable attention has been paid to the work-family issues of working parents, the needs of parents with children who have physical, emotional and learning disabilities have not received significant attention. The number of families affected, the stress on family relationships, and the impediments to workforce participation are considerable,” according to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network’s Director, Judi Casey.

Working parents face daily challenges in meeting the demanding needs of their children with disabilities, while maintaining their work, family and life commitments. A number of trends have increased the number of families affected with an estimated 22% of households with children reporting at least one child with a disability. First, medical advances have improved the survival rate at birth for some children with disabilities, many of whom may need a lifetime of medical care. Secondly, new medical advances provide care to children who would have otherwise been untreated. Third, there is an increase in the number of children with illnesses, such as asthma and Down’s syndrome. These families report higher divorce rates as well as considerable family stress, due to the time and costs associated with their myriad of responsibilities in the home, medical, school and work arenas. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2007), 13.5% of parents, caring for children with disabilities, spent 11 or more hours per week coordinating care for their children. Currently, legislation is pending in a number of states to address the needs of working parents who have children with disabilities.

For more information about issues facing working parents with children with disabilities or to learn more about work-family issues, please go to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network web site at

About the Sloan Work and Family Network
Founded in 1997, the Sloan Work and Family Research Network is the premier online destination for work and family information. The Sloan Network offers multi-disciplinary, credible teaching resources, evidence-based information on workforce issues and unbiased policy data about work and family topics for academics, workplace practitioners and state public policy makers. In addition to special needs, the Sloan Network provides information on various work and family issues; including child and afterschool care, multi-generational workforce, accommodating work arrangements, low wage workers, family leave, breastfeeding, domestic violence, military families and overwork.



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