Working parents need more than “day” care, as economy moves away from standard 9-5
A new report exploring the impact of the availability of child care during non standard hours (NSH) has been issued by Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), highlighting the inadequate supply of NSH child care and the associated challenges and concerns for families working NSH.
The report is of relevance to the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) context, with Australian research demonstrating similar challenges for families working NSH in Australia.
The paper, titled “It’s About Time! Parents Who Work Nonstandard Hours Face Child Care Challenges,” found that the inadequate supply of NSH child care is problematic and raises concerns about access to safe, affordable, and quality child care for many families in America.
“In today’s economy, where anyone can work 24/7, many parents struggle to find reliable, affordable NSH child care.” report authors said.
NHS is defined as hours worked outside the traditional Monday through Friday work week. By 2020, occupations requiring nonstandard schedules are projected to see the most employment growth.
In the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation, 43 percent of all children under 18 in the United States have at least one parent who works NSH. This translates to about 31 million children who may need NSH care. Child care during nonstandard working hours is extremely limited when available and often, unlicensed, the authors said.
“With a declining child care provider market, it’s even harder to find NSH care. Many parents turn to a collection of center-based child care, home-based child care, and child care provided by family, friends, and neighbors. Lack of access to a consistent caregiver puts a strain on both parents and children in a number of ways and this report highlights that.” authors emphasised.
- Factors that affect the likelihood of needing NSH care including poverty, lack of paid leave, and irregular work schedules.
- More than one in four Americans with low incomes work a nonstandard hours job.
- Few American states have regulations focused on NSH of care, especially for family child care. Realistic regulations for care during NSH could help to further expand licensed care.
CCAoA stated they work with state Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies to track the cost of care for children by age and setting, then compares each state’s costs to its median income, ranking the states by affordability for each category of care.
The American Congress recently justified the more than $2.3 billion increase to the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) saying, “…the department should work with states to ensure they are meeting the needs of families with nontraditional work hours.” However, CCAoA said, ‘more research needs to be done to determine the best practices for programs operating during nights and weekends in order to determine what those standards need to look like.’