For working parents, childcare is a critically important factor in their ability to earn a living for their families. The economic reality of our country is that most families today consist of working parents – either a single parent doing it on her own, or two working parents trying to juggle work schedules with caring for their children. For unemployed parents, affordable childcare can provide them with the time to attend school, go to doctor’s visits, look for work or just get a much-needed break.But even as childcare has become increasingly important in American economy and society, quality and affordable options are severely limited. Approximately half of American families that use childcare turn to centers or schools, but this number varies depending on family income level, with many low-income families relying on a mix of care from grandparents, neighbors and unlicensed facilities. As communities work to provide affordable, quality childcare options like Head Start programs, there are ways that parents can ensure that even low-cost options benefit their children.Researchers have found that the quality of childcare is important to the cognitive, language and social development of young children, with consistent and emotionally supportive care being hugely beneficial to children and families. Choosing quality care is important for babies and toddlers, who need nurturing, safe environments in order to thrive. Parents can ensure that their children are in high-quality childcare by looking for caregivers who are loving and responsive to children’s needs, provide a stimulating environment, and engage with children by talking and playing with them frequently.
- Child Trends Data Bank shares important information about the trends in childcare in the United States.
- Zero to Three provides tips for parents on finding quality childcare for their babies and young children.
- A state-by-state resource for childcare, from Childcare Aware.
In the News:
- “Childcare Costs, Already High, Outpace Family Income”, NPR, November 4, 2013
- “Crushed by the Cost of Childcare”, New York Times, August 17, 2013