Lately, one could argue the term ‘crisis’ has been used too much, almost like the term ‘gate’ has been added to the end of any given scandal in recent years. But there’s no doubt that what’s happening in the childcare sector right now is indeed a crisis situation. Parents are facing Covid-related closures of centers, years-long wait lists, and a difficulty finding other care, such as nannies, due to the growing demand. Not to mention closures of schools and flip-flopping between remote learning. They’ve hit a wall.
And it’s not just impacting parents–childcare providers are leaving the industry in enormous numbers, and centers are scrambling to keep up. Some have to close their doors not just because of Covid exposures or infections, but because they cannot find people to hire. This is all wrapped up in the growing trend of people leaving their jobs because of low pay or poor working conditions.
To further examine the impact, CivicScience launched three surveys to understand the current experience of parents and childcare workers.
Impact on Parents
In response to a survey about closures of childcare centers and schools, nearly one-third of parents of school-age children said theirs has closed due to Covid in the past 30 days.
Nearly just as many polled working parents said they’ve had to take off work due to such closures.
The data point to the notion that childcare issues could impact a parent’s overall happiness in their day-to-day life. Those who indicated their daycare or school closed due to Covid in the past month are much more likely to report they are feeling neutral and less likely to report happiness than their counterparts.
These closures directly affecting workdays could lead parent’s to be less happy in their jobs as well, and we observe a high correlation between the two data points. Parents who have missed work in the past month due to a closure are twice as likely to say they’re unhappy with their current role than those who have not had to miss work.
Stress is piling up as a result. People whose disrupted schedules are causing them to use up vacation time or worse (take unpaid time off) are reporting the highest levels of stress in recent weeks. Even more striking is the next figure: more than a third of parents who’ve had to forgo work due to a Covid closure live in a household with a connection to mental illness–either managing a mental health concern themselves or acting as a caretaker for someone who is.
When segmenting the latter data by moms only, this figure jumps 13 percentage points.
This is not entirely surprising, as we know women quite often bear more of the brunt of caregiving and other household responsibilities, especially in current times. However, it’s clear that women are being forced to take time off from their careers as a result of the pandemic–the frequency of which could lead them to leave the workforce altogether.
Somewhat encouraging though: the data show that moms are only somewhat more likely than dads to have taken off due to lack of school or childcare.
Exodus of Childcare Workers
In general, people are leaving their jobs in droves across the country, the childcare sector being just one example. However, the following chart punctuates the crisis centers are facing, leading to issues that affect parents as well.
Sixteen percent of more than 2,600 U.S. adults surveyed at least know someone who has left a job in childcare in the past year. Five percent say they themselves have left this industry.
The ramifications of this issue are certain to continue for some time. As more of the country accepts Covid as a long-term reality, schools and childcare centers will have to figure out what the next phase of the pandemic means for them. The extent to which this continues to impact parents (and the economy) is unknown.