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Child Care and the Illusion of Parent Choice 

In October 2019, BPC conducted its first national survey of parents in hopes of learning, “Do parents prefer child care closer to home or work?” We wanted to know how finding child care (the supply) impacts parents and their choices. Our first survey revealed parents prefer child care closer to home, but our survey raised more questions. Why do parents choose certain child care arrangements? What factors are most important to parents?

As BPC set to investigate in early 2020, the pandemic shifted our focus to COVID-19’s impact on child care, including closures, increased safety measures, and how remote work impacted the need for child care.

Our survey work continued. We learned more about parent’s child care challenges – the cost of child care, work schedules and hours centers are open, and the unique challenges Native and rural parents face. To date, BPC has conducted 10 surveys, providing a comprehensive view of parent needs.

Our understanding of parents and their child care needs is unprecedented.

  • Parents make major sacrifices to their personal and professional lives to ensure they can afford or provide child care.
  • Child care does not meet the needs of many working parents.
  • The cost of formal child care is prohibitive for some parents. Many parents prefer informal care because of its convenience, flexibility, and sense of trust and safety.
  • Businesses underestimate the impact of child care on employees.
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