Data Vignettes – Tammy and William Green
Tammy’s son, William, was born very early—at 29 weeks of her pregnancy. He spent weeks in the intensive care nursery. Tammy had to return to work before he could come home—she needed the income and she had health insurance for William and herself through her employer. She spent her evenings and weekends with William at the hospital. Finally, he was ready to come home.
Tammy’s first challenge was to find child care for him—he was so frail and several child care providers were afraid to take him in. She did, however, finally find someone. But soon, William was having a variety of health problems and was not developing as expected. Williams’pediatrician sent him for a full developmental and medical evaluation and Tammy was overwhelmed to hear that William was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP).
William needed to go to many appointments. Tammy was directed to early intervention services to help her develop a plan for William and connect them with the services they needed. He had medical appointments and also needed to receive services from physical and occupational therapists. However, getting this help meant going to appointments and meetings and missing work.
Finally, Tammy’s boss called her in and told her that her frequent absences were affecting her performance. Tammy asked if she could work part-time on a flexible schedule, but her boss said that would not work for the firm. Tammy regretfully resigned from her high paying job. Tammy’s situation was similar to 27.9% of single, black mothers of children with special health care needs who have had to cut back on working or stopped working due to their children’s health needs. In addition, families of children with cerebral palsy are significantly more likely to have to cut back on work than those of children with other special health care needs. (See graph below). Tammy’s family back home was also struggling and could not give her any financial help.
Percent of Children Whose Conditions Cause Family Members to Cut Back or Stop Working