Nearly 45,000 Connecticut children younger than age 6 have parents who work nontraditional hours, before 7:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays or anytime on weekends. New research from the Urban Institute seeks to understand their child care needs. Urban researchers talked with 41 parents working nontraditional-hour schedules, including 12 parents in Connecticut, and analyzed national survey data on nontraditional-hour work patterns in the state. Key findings include the following:
- About a third of children younger than age 6 living with working parents in Connecticut had parents who worked nontraditional hours, most commonly during early mornings, evenings, and weekends (42 percent, 39 percent, and 40 percent, respectively).
- The share of children with working parents whose parents worked nontraditional hours was even higher for children living with single parents, children in families with low incomes, and children who were Black, Latinx, Native American, or identified as “other/multiracial.”
- Most Connecticut parents interviewed wanted and used care in the child’s home by a relative or friend as their first choice for care during early mornings, evenings, and overnight. Their recommendations for weekend care varied depending on what the child was doing during the week.
- Connecticut parents reported that supporting children’s developmental needs for stability and routine, sleeping in their own beds, unrushed meals, and getting a good night sleep were key reasons behind their recommendations for these time frames.
Policy actions that could support the child care options available to parents who work nontraditional hours include making child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Fund more available for the care arrangements parents recommend for nontraditional hours; ensuring that the care arrangements parents want during nontraditional hours are supported in systems that protect children’s health and safety and promote quality child care and that these systems recognize the unique child development needs of children during nontraditional hours; and providing parents with information about nontraditional-hour child care options.