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Child Care for Black Families is a Community Affair, Yet the Most Important Player is Missing from the Conversation

As the country returns to a ‘new normal,’ many American workers and their families’ daily routines will be impacted by shifting workplace demands. Black families and households have been disproportionately affected because they are overrepresented when looking at the population of essential workers. Essential workers often have unpredictable work schedules and need more care outside of the traditional work hours. As Black families navigate child care access, need, and preferences, employers need to join the conversation and provide a better business model so that parents and families can better plan for child care.

Understanding Black Parents’ Child Care Needs
BPC’s most recent parent survey found:

  1. Black parents need more child care options.
    • About 38% of Black parents reported being more likely to need child care outside of traditional work hours.
  2. Black parents rely on their family members for child care support.
    • More than one in four Black parents have received help paying for child care from grandparents or other family members (26%).
    • Similarly, about one in four Black parents relied on their relatives to provide care for their child during the pandemic (24%).
  3. Black parents need governmental support to pay for child care.
    • Black parents are more likely than parents of other ethnicities to say they have received a federal tax credit for their child care expenses.
    • Approximately 74% of Black parents said that if free, public Pre-k were co-located in a child care program that offered longer hours of care, this would be a better option for their family.

Aligning Child Care Needs with Black Parents’ Work Arrangements
As a significant portion of the essential worker workforce, Black parents’ need more consistent work arrangements. BPC’s survey revealed:

  1. Black parents need a more fixed schedule.
    • Only 29% of Black parents have a fixed work schedule.
  2. Black parents are divided on their preferred work situation.
    • 35% of Black parents prefer to work remotely full-time and 35% of Black parents prefer to work in a hybrid environment.
    • Additionally, one in four Black parents said they would like to work on-site or in the office full-time.
  3. Black parents reached consensus regarding working parents’ right to high-quality child care.
    • 93% of Black parents agree that although parents may prefer to stay home with their young children, many do not have that option as they must work to support their family. These working parents deserve access to high-quality child care.
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How Employers Can Help

The cost of child care and restrictive work arrangements are but a few of the barriers that families of color, especially Black families, currently face. While we have other thoughts on addressing the cost of care, employers are in a unique position to help. Most child care programs require that parents know their schedule far in advance, putting about 70% of Black parents in a difficult position to ensure care for their children. To accommodate child care centers and working families, employers should increase the number of employees with fixed work schedules, especially for parents with children under the age of 5.

Employers, Providers, and Parents: A Community Affair

Addressing our nation’s child care crisis needs to involve the entire community, with employers, providers, and parents sharing the responsibility in making our child care system work better. Given that Black families make up a large proportion of essential workers, employers should extensively consider how their work hours and lack of fixed schedules affect parents’ abilities to plan for child care and to create policies that are more responsive to parents’ needs. Child care providers can help by extending their hours and offering more options to parents who need child care outside of the traditional workday. Finally, parents must speak out and support policies that employ more flexible and accessible options for child care, including calling on policymakers and employers to ensure greater access in exchange for their invaluable contributions to the American economy.

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