Parental Employment Insecurity: A Closer Look at a Complex Issue

Research repeatedly stresses the importance of a child’s first few years of life to long-term learning, behavior and health. But for families facing financial hardships and employment insecurity, it’s difficult to make the most out of these critical years. Due to their circumstances, they often struggle to acquire the necessary resources, mitigate the effect of stress on parent-child relationships, and foster high-quality learning environments.

A recent report commissioned by the Foundation for Child Development (“Children’s Experience with Parental Employment Insecurity and Family Income Inequality”) presents the Index of Parental Employment Insecurity — a new approach for measuring family economic stability by connecting family income level to parental employment insecurity.

This research — which looks distinctly at unemployment, hidden unemployment and underemployment — shows the challenge that many middle- and lower-class families face in reaching economic security. At the same time, the research affirms that a systematic, multifaceted approach is an important policy direction for helping children and their families address economic, health and education outcomes. With tools such as this index, we are able to better understand and measure the needs of families — and determine how best to invest in their young children.

“Public policies that address income insecurity — such as by helping parents regain employment or develop income stability and growth — are essential to ensure families can provide their children with the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”