In the early months of the pandemic, Melissa Maniego managed to work from home. Her job as an administrator at a staffing agency gave Maniego the flexibility to help her daughter with remote kindergarten, and her son had not yet started preschool.

By fall it all unraveled.

The job became more demanding, and by then Grace, 7, and James, 3, both needed help with remote schooling. When her company offered a furlough, Maniego, a single mother, took it. Despite a significant drop in income, she didn’t see any other choice.

“Both of my children have IEPs (Individualized Education Programs),” said Maniego, who lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “I have to sit next to my son and be his teacher the whole time he’s in class. I have to facilitate things like handwriting or using the screen. He’s in the living room, where I have him set up at his mini-table. My daughter sits at the dining table. They can’t be in the same room, but I have to be within earshot of her so I can hear if she’s tuning out. I have to hear that the teacher is asking her to do things and that she is moving around and doing them.”

As challenging as Maniego’s day-to-day schedule seems, it’s shockingly common in a recession that has disproportionately affected women and put unprecedented strains on working mothers. At a May 7 White House press briefing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addressed April’s disappointing job numbers, which included more women exiting the labor force completely.

“There are many drivers of these trends … an undeniable one is a lack of support for people as they raise children and care for older relatives,” Yellen said. “Our policymaking has not accounted for the fact that people’s work lives and their personal lives are inextricably linked, and if one suffers, so does the other. The pandemic has made this very clear.”

Read the full article about economic stress and child development by Debra West at The 74.