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Return of the Stay-at-Home Parents

Employers are embracing parents who took a stay-at-home detour.

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This story appears in the April 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

For decades, leaving a job to raise kids meant kissing your career goodbye. Now, employers are embracing employees who took a parenting detour. launched a "returnship" program last September--the first of its kind--that lets women return to explore a new field for eight weeks with pay but without guarantee of . Eleven professionals took part in the initial launch, and job offers were extended to five of them. Sara Lee also offers part-time paid internships through its own program for parents and others who have taken time off, such as military personnel. Honeywell and UBS have developed their own programs for returning parents, too.

There's been explosive growth in career reentry programs, says Carol Fishman Cohen, co-author of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work and co-founder of iRelaunch, a career reentry strategy firm that compiles a list of reentry programs worldwide. Of the 57 programs iRelaunch has identified, "only nine of those programs--16 percent--existed before 2004," says Cohen, who credits media and research attention for driving the trend.

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