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Survey: Essential Workers Struggle to Locate Care as More Than Half of Programs Closed

Washington, DC –  A new survey conducted by Morning Consult for the Bipartisan Policy Center, released today, finds that the availability of child care during the coronavirus pandemic is a problem of major concern to parents everywhere. In the survey, 60% of parents reported that their regular child care provider has closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those workers deemed essential, only 22% have been able to continue using their regular care arrangement during this time.

Half of all parents said they still need formal child care to be able to work in the current environment, and of those 63% said they had difficulty finding such care. The 33% of parents who reported it was very difficult to locate suitable child care was nearly double the figure from our previous survey less than six months ago, when 18% of parents found it very difficult.

“This survey helps us understand what is happening with child care and will guide us as parents return to normal work schedules,” said Linda K. Smith, director of BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative. “It shows why child care is an essential service that needs our support now and in the future.”

Parents trying to balance work and child care at home are using a variety of approaches:

  • 34% are alternating work hours with someone else in their household to care for their children. Those with incomes over $100,000 were more likely to take this approach (31%) than those with incomes below $50,000 (14%).
  • 18% are working less hours overall, with 21% of those parents still working in-person at a workplace reporting they have reduced their hours in order to provide child care.
  • 10% are working outside normal business hours.
  • 8% are taking paid leave and 11% are taking unpaid leave.

For parents whose child care programs have closed, 42% reported still paying their provider in part or in full. Of those who are still paying, 21% are doing so to ensure their child’s spot remains available upon reopening. But 47% of parents are concerned they won’t be able to afford child care when providers begin to reopen.

The survey was conducted from March 31 – April 4, 2020, among a national sample of 800 parents of children under the age of 5 who were employed and paid for child care within the last three months, but whose situations may have changed recently as a direct result of COVID-19. The interviews were conducted online. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Read the analysis blog post

Read the survey toplines 

Read the survey crosstabs 

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