How Employment Constraints Affect Low-Income Working Parents' Child Care Decisions

Brief

How Employment Constraints Affect Low-Income Working Parents' Child Care Decisions

A multiyear qualitative study finds low-income families seeking dependable child care are hampered by unsteady work, fluctuating wages, and unreliable transportation. Given many low-wage workers' difficulties finding jobs, especially in the Great Recession, parents selected child care arrangements within constraints imposed by employers rather than what they felt optimal for their children's development. Policy changes could bridge the gap between working parents and professional child care centers. For example, increasing public funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care subsidies would encourage child care providers to extend hours, which would better accommodate more families' work schedules.

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