Survey: Majority of Parents Say Child Care Problems Hurt Their Careers

The pandemic certainly didn't make things easier for parents, and a new survey shows how much parents are struggling.

A group of kids work at a table, in a purple filter

Quarantine was a difficult time for everyone, but parents had an especially tough go of it, as many were expected to work their full-time jobs while also basically being their kid’s teacher and full-time caretaker as well. If the pandemic revealed one thing, it’s that in the United States, parents of children do not receive nearly enough support from the social safety net and their work. And in a new survey, a majority of parents said they feel like taking on that much responsibility during the pandemic may have affected their career negatively. No surprise there.

The American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor spoke with 2,066 adults in the United States about their work-life balance during quarantine and 62 percent of parents surveyed said that their duties with virtual schooling and child care hindered their ability to get ahead in their job or career. This stress disproportionally affected parents of color, as 70 percent of Black parents and 62 percent of Hispanic and Latino parents identified the overwhelming amount of responsibility as hurting their career, as opposed to just 51 percent of white parents surveyed.

Overall, more men (60 percent) felt their job performance was affected negatively by pandemic parenting duties than women (51 percent), likely because women still take on the majority of child care responsibilities in America and perhaps felt that it was just more of the same (even if the status quo is terrible.)

This survey may be specifically focused on the pandemic, but it also points to a larger reality about parents in America. That is that parents don’t get any support from the government — and go it alone in one of the wealthiest countries in the world while other countries actually support their working parents.

The unreasonably high price of child care in the United States paired with the complete lack of resources and support from the government have rationally left a majority of parents feeling constantly overwhelmed by how much they are expected to take on while still working full-time jobs.

“Parents are feeling left behind in their careers and in their workplaces,” said Richard Wahlquist, president, and chief executive officer of The American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor. “As businesses continue to bring employees back to office, employers need to support workers with children to ensure that they remain part of the labor force and clearly understand their options for career development and growth.”

And while it’s great that schools are reopening and parents are able to focus on their jobs more than they have been over, say, the last 18 months, hopefully, lawmakers don’t treat COVID-19 as just a blip in the radar. After all, child care centers are still understaffed or unable to reopen and are deeply unaffordable for parents, schools are short on bus drivers, nurses, and teachers, there’s still no federal paid leave plan to help parents deal with the bumps and stresses in life, and meanwhile, parents are all making it work while earning way less than their parents did. In other words, parents continue to get the raw deal — and hopefully, lawmakers will do something to help alleviate that stress.