New study shows heightened pressure on families paying for child care
Half of all families who changed their primary child care arrangements in the past year did so from economic concerns or constraints, according the State of Care Index™—a quarterly report released today by Care.com (www.care.com) in collaboration with the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) and the National Family Caregiver Association (NFCA).
As American families continue to feel the strain of a down economy and high unemployment, many (22 percent) have changed their primary child care arrangements in order to cut costs. The State of Care Index reports families are currently shifting their primary types of child care from out-of-home child care options, which are often more costly, to lower-cost, in-home care arrangements provided by babysitters, friends, relatives or parents themselves.
“The cost of child care is an enormous concern for American parents,” said Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder and CEO of Care.com. “In the first edition of the State of Care Index, we found the average family paid $12,445 for child care—that’s 14 percent of their total income. Now, not surprisingly, we see families changing their child care arrangements in order to save money.”
Cost is especially a burden for parents of children with special needs. These families, on average, pay 45 percent more per hour for child care. According to the Index, care for children with special needs costs $10 per hour versus a national average of $7 an hour for other young children. These averages factor in the costs associated with both in-home and center-based child care. Moreover, children with special needs spend an average of 26 hours weekly in the care of someone other than a parent—five hours less than children without special needs. This means parents themselves must balance their schedules to fill the gap, providing extra attention and care to their children with special needs, while taking more time away from their own careers and activities.
“As a working mom, I know the pressures families face when trying to balance their careers with their lives at home,” said Lirio Marcelo. “One of the reasons Care.com founded the State of Care Index is to shed light on the enormous, yet necessary, burden child care can be on working families and how that affects their employment and work performance.”
The search for child care has a heavy impact on all parents’ careers. Nearly half (49 percent) of parents who changed their care arrangement in the past year confessed to doing research for child care options or conducting interviews with potential caregivers during their work hours. The State of Care Index also shows families are concerned their caregiving responsibilities have hurt their work performance, with over half (51 percent) of parents who changed their child care options reporting a negative job impact.
Finding child care continues to be a struggle for parents. This edition of the State of Care Index reports 31 percent of families who changed their care arrangement in the past year spent more than 12 hours researching and interviewing prospective child care providers before they made a final selection. The study also shows 39 percent of parents of children with special needs devoted more than 12 hours to finding the right caregiver for their family when they changed their care arrangements.
Care.com, the premier source of trustworthy care options for families, released the State of Care Index, November 2009 (.pdf) in collaboration with the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) and the National Family Caregiver Association (NFCA). The first survey of its kind, the Index is a quarterly snapshot of families’ attitudes towards caregiving. The November 2009 State of Care Index addresses the unique pressures families face from the cost and obligation of providing child care and special needs care and how these responsibilities impact their daily lives. The inaugural State of Care Index (.pdf) released in July 2009 focused on child care, senior care and the Sandwich Generation. To read either report or learn more about the State of Care Index, please visit www.care.com/stateofcare.
In September 2009, Care.com surveyed a random sample of its nationwide membership base, the families in NACCRRA’s Child Care Aware Parent Network and the member base of the NFCA. The survey was conducted online and received 1,825 responses.
Founded in 2006, Care.com is the largest and fastest growing service used by families to find high-quality caregivers, providing a trusted place to easily connect, share caregiving experiences and get advice. The company addresses the unique lifecycle of care needs that each family goes through: child care, special needs care, tutoring and lessons, senior care, pet care, housekeeping and more. The service helps families find and select the best care possible based on detailed profiles, background checks and references for hundreds of thousands of mom-reviewed providers who seek to share their services. Through its Care.com for Recruiters service, Care.com also enables companies to find high-quality caregiving employees.
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