The first two papers explore how parental employment conditions contribute to parent-child engagement and family wellbeing. The first uses a sample of low-income parents receiving child care subsidies to ask how different dimensions of precarious work schedules--schedule instability and unpredictability--are associated with child behavior. Frequent shift changes and the need to leave early/stay late unexpectedly were each associated with more child behavior problems via increases in work-family conflict, parenting stress, and material hardship. The second paper finds that parents' work schedule flexibility and ability to work from home were positively associated with parental time in developmentally-supportive parenting activities, especially among single mothers. Together, these studies suggest that the nature of parents' work schedules might empower or restrict their ability to support healthy child development.
The third and fourth papers interrogate the role of salient work-family policies--paid family leave and minimum wage--in empowering working parents to successfully engage with and invest in their children. The third paper uses recent data from a national survey of fathers to examine how access to paid and unpaid leave is associated with paternal-child attachment and fathers' involvement in caretaking. Fathers' ability to take time off after a child's birth, particularly paid leave, and the duration of leave were linked to attachment and caregiving involvement. Using administrative data from Washington state, the fourth paper examines the role of minimum wage increases in non-custodial parents' child support payments. It finds that low-income noncustodial parents working in jurisdictions with minimum wage increases made substantially higher child support payments.
This symposium advances knowledge on how parental work conditions--and the policies that shape them--contribute to family wellbeing. Findings lend support for Fair Workweek laws that give workers more control over and flexibility in their work schedules. They also highlight the potential benefits to families, particularly low-income families, of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 and implementing federal paid family leave.