Working Less to Provide More Care

Brief

Working Less to Provide More Care

How the Pandemic Has Affected Families with Young Children
September 15, 2021

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected families with young children significantly, especially as access to safe and affordable child care has been limited and parents have needed to stay home and reduce their work hours. We use data from the most recent (December 2020) wave of the Well Being and Basic Needs Survey, a nationally representative survey of nonelderly adults, to visually illustrate how families with young children were faring in regards to material hardship and the impact of increased child care responsibilities. We find that many adults in these households wanted to work more hours but could not because of child care responsibilities. We also found that adults working fewer hours to provide child care were disproportionately single, had lower incomes, were working part-time if employed, were experiencing job loss, and were experiencing serious psychological distress. These challenges are likely to persist in the coming months because young children cannot yet be vaccinated, and recent research suggests that child care options have become more expensive during the pandemic and may remain hard to find. These families need a variety of supports to ensure they have the health and economic stability necessary to thrive.

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