Brief What Policymakers Need to Know about Nontraditional-Hour Child Care in Austin/Travis County, Texas
Challenges and Recommendations
Justin B. Doromal, Eve Mefferd, Dawn Dow, Cary Lou, Diane Schilder, Jonah Norwitt
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This brief presents findings that are most relevant to local policymakers from a study of nontraditional-hour child care in Austin/Travis County. Findings are based on an analysis of data collected through interviews and focus groups and analyses of survey and administrative data.

Key findings

  • The need for nontraditional-hour child care (before 7:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. during the traditional workweek and anytime on weekends) in Austin/Travis County is substantial and outstrips supply.
  • Nearly one-third of children with working parents (or about 18,000 children) in Austin/Travis County have parents who work during nontraditional hours, but only about 2,000 regulated child care spaces are available during nontraditional hours.
  • The potential demand for nontraditional-hour child care is higher among groups facing structural barriers to opportunities, such as children in families with parents who are Black, Hispanic, and immigrants; and who have lower education levels or are working and enrolled in school simultaneously.
  • The potential demand for nontraditional-hour child care varies by period, with higher need in the hour before and after the traditional day and the weekend. This was also reflected in study participants’ reports.
  • Supply of nontraditional-hour child care in Austin/Travis County is limited, and most regulated providers offering nontraditional-hour care are home-based providers.
  • Parents participating in this study had different preferences for types of nontraditional-hour care depending on the time of the day.
  • Austin/Travis County study participants reported a range of consequences from inadequate supply of nontraditional-hour child care, including decreased financial well-being for families and reduced ability to access talented employees for businesses.
  • None of the parents participating in the study reported using child care subsidies for nontraditional-hour child care. To address the demand for nontraditional-hour child care, Austin/Travis County leaders, local workforce boards, state agencies responsible for child care, and the federal government can pilot a range of initiatives, prioritize exploring incentives that are sufficient for regulated providers to expand hours of care, and support unregulated providers in becoming licensed and participating in the subsidy system to offer nontraditional-hour child care.
Research Areas Children and youth Families Immigration Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Race and equity Social safety net State and local finance Workforce
Tags Alternative or nonstandard work arrangements Child care Child care and workers Child care and early childhood education Child care subsidies Children's budget Kids in context Immigrant access to the safety net Immigrant children, families, and communities Immigrant communities demographics and trends Job markets and labor force Workers in low-wage jobs Workplace and industry studies Latinx communities Race, gender, class, and ethnicity Racial and ethnic disparities Racial barriers to accessing the safety net Structural racism Parenting Student parents Poverty State and local tax issues State programs, budgets Black/African American communities Welfare and safety net programs
Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population
Research Methods Data analysis Data collection Qualitative data analysis Quantitative data analysis
States Texas
Counties Travis County
Cities Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX
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