By Ashley Rose, after school program director
It’s no secret workplace inequities and demand for quality childcare have risen to the surface as we navigate the current pandemic. We know parents are being forced to make impossible decisions juggling how to provide for their families, keeping their child’s education a priority, and caring for their children. For many working mothers, the pandemic has spread us thin. If you’re a mother, you’ve most certainly experienced the feeling of questioning your every move. Am I doing enough? Am I doing this right? If you’re like me, it’s easy to put your child(ren)’s needs first and your priorities fall second.
I’m here to tell you that whether you’re choosing virtual, in-person, homeschool — whatever your choice is — you’re doing the right thing. While parents make decisions for how to best support their families, I can’t help but question why in 2020 this has to be a choice for working mothers: Choose between your career or your children. One would think we’ve evolved enough that a mother can do both.
But at Wisconsin Youth Company you CAN do both. Our organization has a history that is deep-rooted in supporting working mothers. When our company began in 1974, it was in partnership with the City of Madison as a pilot program to support the growing trend of mothers entering the workforce. The city was looking to provide a safe and fun space for “latch key children” so their parents could work without worrying about the safety of their children.
Since Wisconsin Youth Company’s inception 46 years ago, it continues to support working mothers in the community as well as its own working moms on staff. One of the most unique benefits is the ability for new mothers to bring their baby to work. When I had my child in 2017, I was able to return from maternity leave with my son. He came with me to meetings, slept in a bassinet or sat in a swing next to my desk. I was able to bond with him much longer than other working mothers are afforded to do. As you can imagine, there was no shortage of colleagues who would offer to step up and support me. Our finance director, Mary, was never shy to help take a break and rock him in her office.
Our staff also have benefits for school age children to access programs at free and reduced costs. Imagine being able to continue to grow in your career and having the ability to send your child to summer day camp, after school or a virtual school day program. Not only does this provide comfort for the working parent, our children get to be exposed to endless opportunities through caring communities and opportunities to make friends, support from caring adults, and in the summer months learning through experiences on field trips.
I feel valued as a working mother at Wisconsin Youth Company. I am surrounded by others who get it and we rally around each other and offer our support. My own supervisor, Rebecca Carlin, executive director, has a five-year-old son who is entering kindergarten this fall. Many of my coworkers have children who are young and/or school-aged. And those whose children are grown, show support in understanding and encouragement. It is a one-of-a-kind environment that I know is unlike others in the workforce. We supported each other before COVID, and we have really rallied around each other as we manage our way through the challenges the pandemic has put in front of us all.
“Since beginning my work as executive director at Wisconsin Youth Company, I have always viewed the work of our organization as creating a piece of the village that is necessary to raise a child. As a working mother, I rely on that village, not only for the health and happiness of my son, but also for my own sanity. I am proud to go to work each day knowing that some part of what I do makes life easier for other working moms,” Carlin adds.
I wish all working moms the support and encouragement we all need right now. Life is hard and challenging, and we often can feel alone. Let’s continue to support each other. We are better together.
And if you are looking for a new opportunity, join this great team of working moms. We are hiring!