Bad to worse: Pandemic made it tougher to get child care
A new survey finds a significant number of New Jersey parents with young children have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Almost half of parents are finding it very hard to find affordable child care since the pandemic began,” said Kimberly Boller, the chief strategy and evaluation officer at the Nicholson Foundation.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, conducted for the Nicholson Foundation, found that 58% of parents of infants and toddlers used child care since June 15, when child care centers reopened for families of non-essential workers, down from pre-pandemic levels of 74%.
“Basically what that means is that parents had to scramble, or were scrambling to find the care that they needed," she said.
The survey found 14% of parents of children under the age of 3 quit their jobs after the pandemic began to help manage child care; 17% of parents were forced to reduce their hours; and 8% took an unpaid leave of absence.
“Six times more women were impacted than men —19% for women and 3% for men — saying they had to leave their job to manage child care," she said.
“One of the reasons parents are saying they may not be sending their children back to child care is because of their concerns about exposure to the virus," she said.
In 75% of the cases, the survey found grandparents wound up caring for very young children. Grandparents and relatives have been the main source of child care since June 15.
"That’s something to be thinking about, too, because we know that older adults are at higher risk for the virus," Boller said.
The survey found most parents (76%) believe child care centers should receive funding to help with the increased costs of remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poll also found since the state reopened child care on June 15, 38% of parents with children under 3 report their child care costs have increased. More Hispanic (53%) and Black (41%) families report their child care costs have increased when compared to that of white families (31%).
The Nicholson Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in New Jersey.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com