Working parents face touch decisions about how their children will soon return to school—whether it will be virtually or in person.
Women and family health startup Maven says it wants to support parents as they struggle with these choices about school and child care during COVID-19.
The digital health company teamed up with Brown University economist and parenting author Emily Oster—author of New York Times bestseller "Crib Sheet"—to develop an evidence-based tool to help patients assess the risks and benefits of different school and child care options.
The COVID Child Care Decision Tool is available on Maven's website to help parents weigh the risks sending their children out of the home to school or daycare versus keeping them home for virtual learning. It offers an interactive framework for parents to assess their own circumstances before making these decisions.
"Parents need a lot of support. The circumstances for working parents is incredibly stressful," Erik Lumer, Maven's chief product officer told Fierce Healthcare.
For example, sending kids back to school outside the home can provide more opportunities for socialization and teachers are more adept at providing education. But it comes with increased infection risks as children come in contact with others kids and teachers, he said.
"Our goal is not to tell parents what they should be doing but to provide the relevant resources of information and the rationales to map out their personal circumstances and preferences and walk them through what is the best decision for their families," he said.
Parent and caregivers also have the option to connect with Maven's pediatricians to discuss the mental and physical risks of different school and child care options.
Three in five parents do not have a clear plan for child care or school this fall, the survey found.
Parents with younger children are facing greater uncertainty: 72% of parents with kids age 5 and younger do not have a clear plan, compared with 44% of parents with kids between 11 and 17 years old who do have a clear plan.
Two-thirds of parents report feeling anxious as they navigate decisions about child care this fall. Parents whose youngest child is between 5 and 10 are more likely to be very anxious (50%) than those whose youngest child is less than 5 (37%) or between 11 and 17 (37%).
Almost two-thirds of working parents (60%) do not feel supported by their employer as they navigate child care challenges.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also rolled out a decision-making framework to help parents weigh the risks and benefits of available educational options. The CDC tool is a series of questions to help parents assess their family’s unique needs and situation and comfort level with the steps their school is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19.