What happens to moms/parents with very ill children?

While reading some political stuff, this just struck me today, most jobs only have so much sick-leave, and maternity nor paternity leave is required in the United States. So what do these people do once their sick days are up for the year?

If they simply leave their sick kid at home what happens if something like, they start suffocating or go unconscious?

In my case, I had a back up plan if I couldn’t stay home with a sick child. Grandparents or Aunts or older child. My daughter and DIL both have sick days as do their SOs. Some day cares will let sick children in. Older children can usually be alright for awhile.

We lose our jobs.

The Family and Medical Leave Act has some provisions for this. As I understand it, under that law, if you have a seriously ill child (e.g., your child needs extended attention / care from you, such as if they get cancer), you can get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and your job is supposed to be protected.

(Also, note that FMLA does cover time “to care for a new child, whether for the birth, the adoption, or placement of a child in foster care”, so I think that your statement about “and maternity nor paternity leave is required in the United States” is incorrect.)

However, if, by your question, you mean situations more like, “my kid is sick today with the flu, someone needs to stay home with them, and I’m out of sick days / PTO for the year”…as I understand it, FMLA won’t cover you.

And it will stop coverage after 12 weeks, anyway.

The same happens if it’s your spouse, and a lot of Americans don’t get benefits. No sick leave, no FMLA. If the business you work for has less than 50 employees or you “don’t get the hours”, you’re SOL.

To be fair, it’s not much different here in the UK. Paternity/maternity leave is for the postnatal period - if your child has a long-term illness after that, and you can’t get family to help, you would probably have to quit your job. If your spouse has a good income, you would not be eligible for benefits, but a single parent would be able to claim various government benefits that would enable them to get by.

At my job with a major company, we can donate some of our sick leave hours to a coworker who might need it. I have about 300 sick hours right now, since I usually work from home if I’m sick unless it’s something really bad.

This is a provision for our local teachers’ union, too.

The same as happens if you yourself or your spouse is sick. You stop working.

I cannot imagine a situation here in Canada where both parents work and a much younger child needs constant care - either they will find someone - preferably for free, like an older relative - or one of the spouses has to stay home.

One of the sad cases I read about was the “two-lesbians-and-a-turkey-baster” situation in the USA. They had a child with a cooperative male friend as donor. Then one of the women got sick (not the child). As a result, they ended up using welfare to pay for the medical situation. The welfare department decided that they were not receiving the necessary support from the father and sued him. Turned out the law said, and the court agreed, that sperm donation only absolves the father of child support obligations if done through an accredited fertility clinic, not if it was a private arrangement. Of course, if they refused to name the father, then they would have been cut off welfare and the child taken away to foster care.

the relevant point here being, at a certain point the combination of medical care bills and need for constant care meant there was no opportunity to earn money. 12 days or 12 weeks - when there are 52 weeks and 200 working days each year, a trivial amount of sick time or leave is irrelevant to the equation. However, most welfare departments will, (I assume) allow for a single parent to stay at home if they can prove the child needs it. It’s cheaper than paying professional help through the Medicare system. For two parents - one is going to stay home, and the other will make money. If that’s not enough, welfare will provide. And of course, too, any child under 12(?) cannot be left alone while the parent works, no matter how healthy they are. If there are no day care arrangements, then back to the welfare question.

In the traditional case, there’s already a stay-at-home parent … in the more modern case, one parent has to quit their job … however, we also have the case of a single parent not receiving any child support …

Mine was this last case, and I had to quit my outside-the-home job and make due with what I could earn from my home … it took a very tight budget but we managed to get by, the child was always more important than the riches … this was after the 1996 welfare reforms, so I was ineligible for welfare, food stamps and public health care … luckily, the Great Recession happened and my earnings from home skyrocketed …

and often end up homeless…
(A house near me is run by a charity as housing for home families with a critically ill child - usually being treated for cancer)

One of my sisters wound up homeless after her son suffered a traumatic brain injury - she lost her job, her apartment, and everything in it and was left with just the clothes on her back. That lasted about 3-4 months (this is the sister who doesn’t like me and seldom speaks to me). It was pretty ugly.

It was also ugly because, despite being legally an adult, he is no longer able to care for himself so he requires a guardian. My sister was so appointed. So… imagine various companies/hospitals chasing a homeless woman around trying to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in past-due bills, threatening various sorts of legal action.

Eventually things got better. My nephew is in a long-term care facility paid for by a trust that came out of a large insurance settlement, and my sister is rebuilding her life.

As a parent of a sick little boy I can only shiver in horror of what some people wrote here.

I am lucky enough to recieve a truly staggering amount of help of friends, family and Dutch healthcare.

I take it this is not a Ronald McDonald house or some other variation? Those are ubiquitous in cities with a large children’s hospital, so the parents have a free or inexpensive home-like place to stay while their child is in the hospital. I’ve heard of stays ranging from a single night, to months on end.

Where I work, we can donate vacation time, not sick leave. And the request has to be approved and sent out through HR.

What if their child is only mildly sick but at a high risk of becoming injured at any random time, such as someone with epilepsy, asthma who gets frequent colds or someone that can faint any minute.

If you take time off work, then you take time off. When you run out of paid time off, you either don’t get paid or you lose your job completely.

It is run by the Seattle charity “Mary’s Place” and is called the "Popsicle House"

My understanding of Ronald McDonald houses are that they are limited to stays in a single room and limit the number of people. Not useful to a homeless family in many cases.

A coworker of mine had to use vacation days. This was a nice workplace where there’s specifically “family leave” (although not unlimited).

I’ve red in numerous studies on welfare dependency that this is one reason why some single parents cannot work (at least not reliably) and fall onto or remain on welfare.

The law in Canada and the USA is that you cannot go out and leave alone a child under the age of (12? 13? 10?) sick or not. Stupidly, but you can tell the child to go from home to the library when they are close to that age, and not come home until you are home. (Library or Mall or somewhere might call Family Services on a 6-year-old wandering around alone…)

So between 0 and 5 you would need to find some sort of care regardless. After that, you would need after-school care, possibly before-school depending how early you leave for work. I was involved on the board of a daycare once where the children were half before-after-school-and-lunch (School refused to supervise lunch!) and half students in half-days kindergarten.

Not sure to what extent school is obliged to accommodate children with various degrees of illnesses or conditions; depends on the state, I suppose. But the answer is always the same, regardless of why - if you can’t show up to work reliably, you won’t have a job. Welfare is usually the bare minimum to get by.