Child care crisis among barriers keeping women from rejoining workforce

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- There are a number of issues keeping women out of the workforce, even though the impact of the pandemic is waning.

A lot of women, and especially moms, said the workforce needs to change if they're going to get back in it. That's one reason the woman who owns a new, small business in Houston went from unemployed to self-employed.

"For the last year, I've been a stay-at-home mom, which was new for me," Tannisha Chea, known as Nurse Tan, said.

She's one of the millions of women who left the workforce during the pandemic. The mom of three was a traveling nurse, but she decided to ditch the scrubs to take care of her immunocompromised kids when COVID-19 hit.

"It took me from just nurse and dealing with normal family life, to having to make critical decisions," she said.

Families across the country faced with similar issues made similar decisions. Elizabeth Gregory, the director of the Institute of Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Houston said issues surrounding care are still preventing women from getting back to work.

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"There is no infrastructure for care here. There's no elder, no family leave, no child care under the age of five, and there's all these gaps in the school schedule," Gregory said.

Without a way to make care accessible for women who need it, Gregory said we'll never achieve an inclusive or equitable workforce.

"What would it mean to actually have women participating fully and growing the economy through the income they raise and taxes they pay, but also their insights as entrepreneurs and innovators?" Gregory asked.

So when traditional nursing wouldn't work for the Chea family, Tannisha became a business owner. Now, she plans to sculpt bodies on her own schedule to give her family the flexibility they need.

"Just being in a more controlled environment, in control of my environment, and in control of my time... It's been sleepless nights and long days, but I'm here," she said.

The grand opening for Chea's Sculpt It Recovery and Wellness Spa is set for July 20th.
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