BPC 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.
Every day, parents across the country make important decisions about who is caring for their children—whether they provide care themselves or rely on formal or informal child care arrangements. Child care is personal and varies based on a family’s needs, preferences, and circumstances. Understanding what drives parents’ child care decisions is key to creating a high-quality child care system that aligns with what parents want for their families. This blog and webinar highlight several survey findings, from the rates at which parents are returning to formal child care and important factors in their decision-making processes, to implications of a COVID-19 vaccine on current child care arrangements.
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.
Read the corresponding blog, Online Schooling a Logistical Nightmare for Working Parents, which offers key insights into how working parents are making school-age care decisions as schools shift online.
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.
Access to quality care and learning in the first years of life is crucial for building a strong foundation that allows children to succeed. Still, a partisan divide has complicated a vital national conversation on increasing child care quality and access. The Bipartisan Policy Center partnered with Luntz Global to survey conservative and liberal viewpoints on child care and early learning, to find that conservatives and liberals alike recognize that early childhood development is critical to the wellbeing of the nation as a whole and even align on some possible policy approaches.
Listen to the webinar event here.