Parenting Special Needs Children and Work

Boston Globe ran recently a two-article series by Maggie Jackson about working parents who have children with special needs. The first article, “A parental juggling job: Workplace stigmas add to struggles of people with disabled children” was published on December 14, 2008. The follow-up, “Bosses responding to special needs”, appeared on December 28, 2008.

Jackson writes

“nearly 14 percent of kids up to age 17, or about 10.2 million children, have special healthcare needs, which is defined as a chronic problem that limits activities or demands extra healthcare, according to 2006 government data”


“In any given company nationwide, 8.6 percent of employees care for such children, according to Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy.”

According to the publication of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy titled “Children with Special Needs and the Workplace: A Guide for Employers”:

“As a result of managing family responsibilities, parents of children with special needs bring talents and skills to the workplace including:

  • Determination
  • Resiliency
  • Advocacy
  • Negotiation
  • Multi-tasking
  • Prioritizing” (page 3)

The Guide also cites a 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce conducted by the Families and Work Institute according to which:

“Employees with access to supportive work-life policies and practices are more:

  • Satisfied with their jobs
  • Committed and loyal to their employers
  • Willing to work hard to help their employers succeed
  • Likely to stay with their employers” (page 4 of the guide)

By the way, when I googled the title of the guide, I also found a very nice one-page brochure from the Boston College Sloan Work and Family Research Network, with links to an overview and briefs, statistics, and readings on  “Parents Caring for Children with Disabilities.” I need some time to go through all the info, but at first glance it looks very interesting and has a lot of useful info.

Jackson’s article mentions Ernst & Young and Raytheon as two companies that have a network of parents who have children with special needs.

The place where I work, a huge employer of over 15, 000, who has been on the 100 Best Companies compiled by the Working Mother Magazine doesn’t have such a group yet. I’m trying to create it but it’s a slow going. I do hope I succeed in the end.

In the meantime, I’m trying to find more information on other employers that might have networking groups like that. I would appreciate any leads.


  1. Hello, thank you for mentioning the Sloan Network in your blog. Your readers may also be interested in the December 2008 Network News on: Work-Life Integration and Children’s Mental Health, An Interview with Julie M. Rosenzweig and Eileen M. Brennan at:

    We also have the Work and Family Blog at:

  2. Thank you for bringing to my attention the interview from the December 2008 issue, and the blog.

    As I wrote in my post — I really like the Sloan Network site (very attractive visually too, by the way, who’s your developer / designer?) I’ll probably be spending several hours over the next couple of evenings going over the information you have there. It looks like a goldmine of useful information!

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