Children's Express, a privately funded news service, is real world journalism reported entirely by children 13 years of age or under whose tape-recorded interviews, discussions, reports and commentary are edited by teenagers and adults. By Danielle Duclos, 8; Bria Gentry, 8; Blayre Josey, 11; Matthew Wolsk, 13; Assistant Editors: Nancy Gottesman, 17; Felicia Kornbluh, 17 NEW YORK (UPI) -- People who are working can't take care of their children during the day. But a lot of people can't afford day care. The kids have to stay with relatives and sometimes the parents have to leave the kids alone at home.
Sometimes the kids get in trouble. They might get into things or play with matches. If someone knocks on the door, they might just answer and they won't know who it is.
They don't get enough communication. A kid gets really lonely.
He might even start to cry, might get hungry. It's a bad situation.
Dana Friedman is an expert on the problems that happen when parents work. She told us, 'Reports from fire departments and emergency rooms of hospitals show that between the after-school hours of 3 and 6 p.m. there is an increase in fires caused largely by young children who are home playing with matches and who don't know better. You'll also find that accidents have occurred and children have been brought into the emergency rooms because the parents were not at home.'
Ms. Friedman also explained that the parents who are working are worried. They're thinking, 'Oh, my child -- she probably played with matches. I hope she didn't open the door. I forgot to tell her to take the food out.' They're nervous so they're not really thinking about what they're doing.
'In fact,' Ms. Friedman said, 'studies have shown that on the assembly line at 3 o'clock, there's an increase in accidents among parents of latchkey children who are worried about their children coming home to an empty house.'
A 'latchkey child' is a child who has to have a key around his neck so that he will be able to get into the house. That's the only way he can get in.
'But what are parents to do?' Ms. Friedman asked. 'A lot of times, they are left with no choice.' She also pointed out that 'a lot of parents are afraid to tell their employers that they need assistance because they don't want to make demands. During these difficult economic times, they're just grateful for having a job.'
Ms. Friedman is trying to 'give employers ways to make life a little more flexible.' She has set up a 'national :learing house of information on what companies all over the U.S. are doing to provide support to parents who work.'
Support to working parents 'can come in a variety of ways,' Ms. Friedman explained. The employees can have job-sharing where they share a job with a person. Somebody does the morning work and the other person works in the afternoon, or one person works half the week and the other person works the other half. Sometimes people might only have a parttime job.
The company could also try to set up a very good day care center. They could put it in the building so that if the mother had a little baby and she had to breastfeed, she could just go. As Ms. Friedman pointed out, 'Sometimes the company wants parents to return to work very soon instead of taking a long maternity leave.'
We asked Ms. Friedman if day care could come out of someone's pay. She replied that 'some companies ask the parents to lower their salary a little bit and in exchange they'll give them the money to pay for day care. Some people are allowed to trade off vacation and other benefits that they don't need as much.'
For a kid, your mother is usually your favorite person besides your father. Being with your parents would be the best. Being alone is the worst. Day care is much better than being left alone.
Day care is expensive to the companies, but maybe they get paid back for it. By having day care, the parents don't have to worry about their children. They're more relaxed and they have control over what they do.
'Hopefully the workers will feel better about the company, and so they'll work a little harder,' Ms. Friedman said. 'That adds up to something called productivity, and companies are very concerned about that.'
But not that many employers have thought day care is a good idea yet. 'There are 5 million companies in the U.S. and 600 of them have day care,' Ms. Friedman told us. 'It's a small number compared to the number who could.
'Companies are pretty slow to react to some of these issues,' she added. 'When a lot of the people who run major companies were growing up, their mothers were home at 3 o'clock with cookies and milk. Their wives were home for their children at 3 o'clock with cookies and milk. They have never experienced the need.'
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