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Breaking Stereotypes: Decoding Hispanic Parent’s Child Care Preferences

Ver el análisis de la encuesta.

There has been a long-standing assumption that Hispanic parents are the least likely to prefer and rely on formal child care (care provided by a center or family child care home.) Anecdotes suggest that Hispanic parents prefer for relatives to provide care because of cultural values known as “familism.” This kind of care is also known as informal child care, care provided by relatives, parents, non-live-in nannies, or other friends and neighbors.

Familism not only places high value on the family unit, but also places the expectation that the family unit takes precedence over individual interests within the unit.

Until now, data on employed Hispanic parents’ child care preferences, and how culture impacts decision-making was not available. The Hispanic population is growing faster (from 51 million in 2010 to 62 million in 2020) than non-Hispanic white and Black populations. Understanding the child care needs of this growing population is crucial.

In December 2023, BPC continued our work on understanding parent preferences and surveyed employed Hispanic parents to understand their child care priorities and preferences. Do they prefer formal vs. informal care? Do they prefer school readiness over cultural teachings? Is there a preference for relative care due to culture? By answering these questions, BPC sought to not only better understand Hispanic parents’ child care needs but also confirm or dispel the belief that Hispanic parents prefer informal child care because of culture, or familism.

Key survey findings are highlighted below.

What Matters Most to Hispanic Parents when Choosing Child Care?

Whether Hispanic parents are using formal or informal child care, the following are the most and least important factors when it comes to selecting a child care provider:

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The Role of Latino Culture in Child Care Arrangement

Hispanic parents’ likelihood of relying on a formal child care arrangement is not negatively impacted by a provider not offering culturally relevant teachings or activities. This is true across parent’s generational statuses and current use of informal or formal child care.

However, 58% of all surveyed Hispanic parents, and 65% of those relying on a formal child care arrangement believe it is essential or important but not critical for their child care provider to incorporate Latino cultural practices, traditions, or values in their care.

Employed Hispanic Parents Current Child Care Arrangements

Current child care arrangements are working for most Hispanic parents, 73% of those relying on formal care and 67% relying on informal care, prefer their current arrangement even if child care were free and in a convenient location. However, some Hispanic parents relying on informal care express interest in formal care under certain conditions:

  • 56% are absolutely certain or would very likely consider formal child care if it were affordable and within their budget.
  • 65% would be absolutely certain or very likely to consider formal child care if it were located inside their work or their spouse’s workplace.

Most (78%) Hispanic parents need child care during traditional work hours, 8am-6pm, and over one third (35%) also express the need for care outside of traditional work hours, 6pm-8am. Those working in service/retail are especially likely to need child care on the weekends (45%) and outside of traditional work hours (44%). Of those working in service/retail, 68% depend on informal care, marking the highest reliance compared to other surveyed occupations and employed Hispanic parents at large.

Why Formal Child Care?

Why Informal Child Care?

A Gap in Knowledge

Seventy-five percent of Hispanic parents grapple with child care expenses without financial assistance.  Nearly half (48%) of Hispanic parents, regardless of their child care arrangement, have not or were unaware of their ability to claim child care expenses on their taxes. The percentage is slightly better for Hispanic working parents using formal child care arrangements, 65% have claimed their child care expenses on income taxes.

Eleven percent of employed Hispanic parents receive certificates or vouchers provided by the state or city to help offset the cost of child care. While financial supports exist, the utilization rate is low compared to the overall percentage of Hispanic parents paying for child care.

Although we do not have data to make a direct comparison, employed Hispanic parent’s use of certificate and vouchers for child care is low when compared to national averages of CCDF subsidy utilization. In FY 2020, 18% of CCDF-eligible children (0-13) under federal rule received subsidies – of these children, 34% were Black (non-Hispanic), 14% were White (non-Hispanic), 13% were Hispanic, and 6% were Asian (non-Hispanic).

The Takeaway

Cultural values are not a determining factor when it comes to child care preferences for Hispanic parents. Rather, trust, safety/cleanliness, and quality caregivers are determining factors – which aligns with results from previous BPC surveys. Generally, Hispanic parents are content with their current child care arrangement, for Hispanic parents relying on informal child care, cost and location would be key for them to consider a formal arrangement.

More needs to be done to ensure parents, especially Hispanic parents who prefer and rely on formal child care are aware of financial supports that exist to help offset their child care expenses.

Join BPC on Friday, March 8 to learn more about this community of working parents, featuring an in-depth analysis of survey findings with comparison to previous BPC parent surveys, and insights into the ramifications of survey results.

Register here.

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