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You might be wondering what safety has to do with Open-Flexible work. How about the safety of your children? I personally realized this safety issue when I picked up my daughter’s friend for a scheduled play date. My daughter’s friend went home directly after school since her mother could not afford after school care all five days. Her mother is a low-moderate wage worker and single parent of two.

I arrived at the apartment complex where my daughter’s friend lived to see her distraught mother outside with her daughter. Apparently, something scared her daughter and she left the house, ran across a busy street to a sandwich shop where her friend's mother worked. Fortunately, the two mothers connected and her daughter was returned home, safe and sound.

I reacted in two ways: first being thankful I could afford five days of after school care for my child, and secondly, I felt incensed that this situation occurred. I do know there is scholarship money available and sometimes parents will not disclose the need, due to pride. I cannot help and think about the subsidized after school care in my native Canada ($5/day) for everyone. Then, I bring myself back to the reality of living in the United States where low wage workers sometimes feel inadequate if they cannot provide for their children and must seek hand “outs” instead of hand “ups” through standard government subsidies available to everyone. My daughter’s friend could have been hit by a car running across the busy street, abducted or even worse.

According to the After School Alliance: "More than 15 million school-age children (26 percent) are on their own after school. Among them are more than 1 million are in grades K to 5. (After-school Alliance, 2009)

The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2002)

Teens who do not participate in after-school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They are also three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and are more likely to drink, smoke and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2001)

Early childhood education expert James Heckman concludes that a compliment of early education and
participation in after-school programs can reduce initiating drug use among youth by nearly 50 percent (45.8) while reducing the likelihood of them skipping school by half. (Investing in Our Young People, University of Chicago, 2006), retrieved 4-2-2010

In my view, these reasons provide adequate argument for parents to enroll their children in an after school program. However, what if an after school program is not available in your area or you are a low wage worker that cannot afford such a program?

I believe we have the answer: open-flexible work. Imagine the impact on children and society if a working parent can flex their schedule and be home for their children at 3pm? Many parents I know are willing to forego their lunch hour and leave one hour early to care for their children after school. Will an employers bottom-line be affected that much if an employee takes their lunch at the days end instead of mid-day. Or, will less work get done if an employee is working 7:30am-3pm instead of 8am-4:30pm or 9am-5pm? If face time is required on the job, is there any reason the boss cannot create shifts or have employees bid on shifts? In fact, I know it can work. Some organizations, like Resurrection Health Care in Chicago, use

“...a revolutionary new online self-scheduling system, RES-Bid™, gives you the freedom to self-schedule and the opportunity to choose your pay. This unique concept allows you to choose when you work, where you work and your hourly rate by bidding on shifts that are convenient for you. RES-Bid™ can help you take control of your schedule by:

Working when it is convenient for you

Determining your hours

Responding to fewer calls to work on your days off

Making more money “ , retrieved 4-2-2010

Modifying your work schedule is one component of open-flexible work that can help keep your children safe by eliminating their opportunities to participate in juvenile crime, experience unplanned pregnancy, drug activity and alcoholism. Additionally, they will do better in school. Why are we sacrificing the safety of children just to comply with a preferred (often unnecessary) work schedule?

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