BPC and Morning Consult conducted several surveys of parents with children under age 5 to learn about the child care challenges they are experiencing—both prior to and during the pandemic. The surveys focus on a number of issues, including the cost of child care and how it affects a family’s budget, the impact of COVID-19 on a parent’s work status and their child care needs, and how school reopening plans influence a parent’s decision around child care. We hope the data collected can help us better understand the needs of parents around the country and guide policy recommendations that can work for them.
As the pandemic persists, K-12 schools are rethinking how they provide instruction. Parents are also being forced to rethink how they provide care for their school-age children during the week. A new analysis of national survey data collected in early August by Morning Consult and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative offers key insights into how working parents are making school-age care decisions as schools shift online.
The August 2020 survey found that COVID-19 has greatly impacted child care arrangements for many families. With over 70% of parents reporting their child care programs either closed or are operating at reduced capacity or hours, finding quality child care that fits within a parent’s budget is even more challenging. In this survey, parents also expressed concern about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and are struggling to balance this fear with their work demands.
The April 2020 parent survey found that child care in the United States is still necessary for parents to work, even amidst changing work environments. But child care is difficult to find and in many circumstances, closed indefinitely. This leaves parents who are working at home on their own to juggle their work and caregiving responsibilities.
The October 2019 survey found that most American families with children under 5 have had to make significant changes to their budgets to afford child care. The availability of quality, affordable child care has also proved a barrier to parents remaining in the workforce or saving for emergencies and retirement.