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Faced with the daunting task of juggling work and supervising their children with online classes for the next few months, secretary of the Association of Psychiatrists of T&T (APTT) Dr Varma Deyalsingh is calling for support on behalf of parents.

Speaking to Guardian Media, Deyalsingh called on the government to offer incentives to employers who can give parents the option of working from home.

He also said parents needed support.

“To ease the stress of the parents we may have to provide the social support to those who face job loss and the challenge of feeding and educating our children,” Deyalsingh said.

He noted, “Parents are facing children waking up all night playing video games. With structured classes, children would now need to adapt to the day schedule once more. Children failing to adapt or needing help from the child support unit via the schools can assist.”Deyalsingh also said the Minister of Labour has to be the ear for those parents who have no one to take care of their children and face job loss.

“The stress parents face are threefold. There is the stress of job loss, fear of catching the disease and bringing it home and the challenge of taking care of our children. Having children at home while at work can be challenging. If no adult is at home, those who can afford a nanny are fearful of COVID being brought to homes,” he said.

Saying everyone should be educated on proper precautions, Deyalsingh said, “those who can’t afford a nanny would need to negotiate with other parents, family and neighbours to have community supervision.

“Others may need to negotiate with employees to be able to work from home,” he said.

He noted that the school which had that supervisory capacity for eight hours a day when parents could go to work is no longer there.

“It is a crime to leave children at home unattended by an adult so some parents are caught between a rock and a hard place. The government may have to bargain on the employee’s behalf. Some businesses will go under and persons may be retrenched. This is another fear that parents have so the social services need to step in and assist with the COVID relief grant,” Deyalsingh said.

He also said that for some families, schools were the only source of a sustainable meal.

“These meals need to be delivered to the homes of our children who are affected by poverty. Some parents cannot afford to feed their children properly,” he added. He also said the provision of laptops is also important.

“The People’s Partnership dream of a computer for all children needs to be followed. At least one to a home. Government needs to give free WiFi access as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, some parents said they were having difficulty juggling work and caring for their children.

Arlene Jules, a mother of two, said, “As it stands I am not coping very well. I am trying to keep on top of my work but I feel as if I am neglecting my children.”

She added, “I feel as if I am working 24-7 and since I started working from home my workload has increased.

Another parent Miranda Khan said, “When children see you home, they come to play and they do not understand that you are working. Chasing them away could have psychological consequences. I really need someone to help and working parents really do need support systems.”

Parent Kimberly Granger said often grandparents are not able to keep up with assisting children in their on-line classes so hiring a tutor is another expense which becomes unmanageable.

Because of the threat of job loss, many employees have no choice but to work long hours.