About 22 percent of all parents with young children say that they cannot work, either in person or remotely, without childcare. Finding and affording quality childcare can be a tough task. Working parents have to figure out how to balance work responsibilities with finding accessible childcare options. This balancing act places great personal and professional stress on workers. Consequently, not having proper support for your employees can lead to higher turnover and a less productive workforce.  

Lack of affordable childcare options

It’s nearly impossible for working parents to be able to go to work if they can’t find someone to take care of their children. In fact, many working parents have reduced their work hours at some point to watch their kids. According to data published by Ready Nation, 55 percent of working parents have missed a full day of work, and 54 percent of working parents have reported being distracted at work due to childcare problems. Working parents tend to prioritize family concerns. In research conducted by McKinsey & Company, they found key factors as to why parents are leaving the workforce that are distinct from nonparents. Of more than 20 possible reasons given for leaving their job in the past six months, parents cited caring for family as a top five reason. 

Furthermore, the high cost of quality childcare is a burden to most parents. In a Care.com survey, 85 percent of parents are spending 10 percent or more of their household income on childcare while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claims that childcare is considered affordable when it costs no more than 7 percent of household income. 

The survey also revealed that 72 percent of families say childcare is more expensive and 46 percent of families say childcare is more difficult to find, due to the pandemic. At WorkLife, our Resource Navigators can help your employees discover government programs and provider discounts where they may be eligible for financial assistance to offset the cost of childcare. 

Shortage of quality childcare resources

While finding affordable care is already hard enough, there is a labor shortage for childcare workers. A recent survey of more than 7,500 respondents from childcare centers and homes across the country found worker shortages in nearly every state, with some as high as 90 percent. Many centers are having to turn down desperate parents because they simply don’t have enough staff.

Throughout the pandemic this has become even worse with over half of Americans living in “childcare deserts” —areas where the number of children outnumber available slots by three to one.

Factors that affect household childcare decisions

According to a graph found in this Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, parents were surveyed to determine common factors affecting how childcare is divided within a household. They found that many determinants were based off of employment factors such as:

  • Which person is currently employed
  • Which person works more hours
  • Which person has a flexible work schedule
  • Which person is more at risk of being laid off

Additionally, HBR discovered that the pandemic made work-life balance disproportionately more difficult for women, and in particular, single mothers and women of color. It is crucial that single moms are supported during this unprecedented time. WorkLife had provided personalized support to 778 single mothers. Without help, women are more likely to report that their work hours are reduced due to a lack of childcare if they are Black, single, divorced, separated, or widowed. Moreover, it would take 30 months for women just to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels, per NWLC’s estimates. 

How to support and retain your working parents

By showing your working parents support as they look for childcare options that are best suited for them, you have an opportunity to increase productivity, retention, and workforce loyalty. Below are some things you can do to show your support:

  • Increase flexibility to give your employees more of a work-life balance. Offering things like a floating day per week that they can take as needed goes a long way. 
  • Create a culture of awareness that is more responsive to childcare needs. Have managers understand what providing childcare entails and know that individuals are more than just employees. 
  • Take a holistic approach to employee well-being.

WorkLife Partnership’s guide to navigating childcare

WorkLife Partnership can support your employees as they face hard childcare decisions. We’ve broken down everything from the different types of care to where to search and what benefits are available.

Use this resource to get knowledgeable on the questions employees often ask. Or, you are free to share this resource directly with your employees you know are facing hard childcare decisions.


If you’d like to make an investment in working families so your workforce can focus on getting to work and staying productive at work, please contact us.