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SCOTT JAGOW: Sunday we honor mothers and their sacrifices. One of them is financial. Studies show moms who step off the career ladder to raise kids lose more than a third of their earning power if they spend three or more years at home. Interesting and flexible part-time work can be hard to find. But companies are also desperate for experience. From the Marketplace Work and Family Desk, Hillary Wicai reports.
CINDY SHAY:"Sweetie are you thirsty? Did you get to do your digging?"
HILLARY WICAI: Cindy Shay's six year old's been looking for bugs.
CINDY SHAY:"You were digging, did you find anything?"
SHAY'S DAUGHTER:"Just a little green thing..."
Shay cherishes the time with her children, but she also loved her job as a CPA and comptroller for a major national non-profit. The company wouldn't let her work part-time, so she quit. But she wants to work full-time again someday.
CINDY SHAY:"One day they'll all be in school."
In the meantime, she wants to keep her skills sharp with part-time work. But with three kids, flexibility is key.
[ Baby crying ]
But, like many women, Shay discovered once you take a ramp off the career highway, on-ramps can be tough to find.
CINDY SHAY:"So many stay-at-home parents are very isolated. They're not getting to have power lunches with anyone because they're sitting at home with squash on their shirts..."
A Center for Work Life Policy study last year found that three quarters of all women who want to rejoin the workplace end up doing so. Only 40 percent do so full-time. At the same time, many employers say they're hungry for experience.
DOUG PALMER:"I spend about 25 percent of my time looking for talent."
Doug Palmer runs his own accounting firm and he's in the market for good part-time help. If only CFO Palmer and stay-at-home mom Shay could meet.
Companies that actually make that happen are springing up.
[ Song: "Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match... " ]
Allison O'Kelly never fancied herself a matchmaker. This mom of two with a Harvard MBA first started her own accounting firm. Then she saw that clients needed all sorts of help and she knew plenty of moms looking for all sorts of part-time work. Her business morphed into Mom Corps.
ALLISON O'KELLY:"You know, it just made sense, that's really what it came down to.
Mom Corps, in Atlanta and DC, pairs employers with experienced moms who used to be CPAs, brand managers, marketing directors, even lawyers. Some women work from home. They all make about $50-75 an hour.
ALLISON O'KELLY:"I wanted to make sure that any mom anywhere who wanted this access to part time work should be able to have it."
It's working for CPA Cindy Shay. Mom Corps quickly introduced her to Doug Palmer.
DOUG PALMER:"It saves me a lot of time trying to find good people."
Shelly Waters Boots is with Parents Action for Children. She says companies like Mom Corps are long overdue but they don't let policymakers off the hook.
SHELLY WATERS BOOTS:"The one trick to this, is that working for Mom Corps or a business like this is a great option if you've got somebody else that's bringing home the benefits."
Still, Boots says it's a good first step. And Mom Corps has plans to open soon in three more cities.
In Washington, I'm Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.
SCOTT JAGOW: And in Los Angeles, I'm Scott Jagow. And to all you moms out there, especially mine, happy Mother's Day. And have a great weekend.