New Study Confirms Parent Confidence on the Rebound as Parents Look To the Future of Child Care and Work

Parents of all political beliefs agree that child care is at a crisis point in this country as they reimagine the future of work

Despite all the setbacks that parents have faced during these past two years, parenting confidence is on the upswing as revealed in the 2022 Parent Confidence Report, a national study from KinderCare Learning Companies conducted by The Harris Poll. After two years of lagging confidence levels, 86 percent of parents now report they feel confident on a typical day. At the same time, stress levels have reached an all-time high at 59 percent, making the state of parenting more complex than ever.

“While this year’s Parent Confidence Report shows the true cost the pandemic has had on parents across the nation, it also shows that parents – like children – are resilient.”

Many parents made career changes, navigated school closures, and juggled the social, emotional, physical and academic needs of their children these past two years. The study shows that parents now expect even more support from employers and the government when it comes to child care. In fact, working parents prefer child care assistance more than established “off hours” from their employers and, more than ever, parents agree that government should help offset the cost of child care.

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“While this year’s Parent Confidence Report shows the true cost the pandemic has had on parents across the nation, it also shows that parents like children are resilient,” said Dr. Elanna Yalow, Chief Academic Officer of KinderCare. “Our report underscores what we hear every day from families in our centers and from our employer partners: child care is the most pressing need for parents today. In fact, parents across the political spectrum agree that child care is at a crisis point and that employers and the government need to provide more support.”

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Key findings from this year’s report include:

  • Child care needs are driving the future of work. Parents are at the forefront of reimagining work and are making career modifications to be more available for their children. Forty percent of parents are open to or actively seeking new jobs right now, and roughly 60 percent have or have considered taking a career break due to child care needs. Working parents prefer employer-provided child care assistance, either through subsidized tuition or in a center, over employers setting “off hours” where parents are unplugged and unreachable.
  • Hybrid work could shape the future of child care. Sixty-nine percent of parents believe that “hybrid work has or will change my child care needs.” Working parents are looking for flexible, employer-sponsored care to support them. Outside of family and friends who can help, the biggest needs for hybrid workers are co-working and play centers (39 percent), multiple locations for child care (37 percent) and on-demand care options (36 percent).
  • Parent confidence is at an all-time high, yet so are stress levels. Eighty-six percent of parents report that they “feel confident in their parenting on a typical day,” rising from its 2020 and 2019 low of 77 percent. Despite growing confidence, parents’ stress levels are also at an all-time high — 59 percent of parents feel that “parenting during Covid-19 has been the most stressful time of my life, up from 55% in November 2020.
  • Uncertainty around child care is a key factor in parents’ stress. Many parents have spent more time with their children these past two years than ever before, likely contributing to parenting confidence. In fact, more working parents are leveraging work flexibility to be present in their children’s lives (69 percent), an increase of 10 percentage points from February 2020. At the same time, many of the reasons for this increased time together are also some of the main causes of stress: Nearly half of parents said the uncertainty around the safety of sending their children to school and child care has complicated their ability to confidently navigate parenting (44 percent), followed by uncertainty around school/child care closures (36 percent).
  • Parents expect more from child care providers, with mental health & inclusion taking a front seat. With increasing reporting on mental health challenges among children, roughly 80 percent of parents think that mental health needs to be part of the school curriculum moving forward. Eighty-three percent of parents also feel that all types of families should be celebrated in classrooms, and 81 percent note the importance of their child(ren) seeing themselves reflected in these spaces, such as in books, activities, or cultural celebrations.
  • Where do we go from here? Insights show a turning point for America. Americans of all political beliefs agree that child care in this country is at a crisis point in terms of accessibility and affordability (77 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans). More than ever, they’re looking to the government for assistance. Seventy-two percent of all parents believe that the government should help offset the cost of childcare, a 10 percent increase from November 2020.

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