Most Americans Want Companies to Help Ease Child Care Burden

A majority of Americans think their employer should help with child care in the face of rising costs, according to a new report from non-profit research group JUST Capital. 

The survey listed nine ways employers could help with child care, with all options receiving at least 50% support. Flexibility was particularly important to respondents, as nearly 70% were in favor of part-time or job-sharing opportunities and 68% supported flexible work schedules. A majority were also in favor of financial assistance, like discounted or subsidized full- or part-time child care. 

“Our research shows that awareness of the challenges of balancing child care with work responsibilities is strong, with more than three-quarters of respondents having personally experienced or heard of people leaving jobs (78%) or missing work to provide child care for their families (81%),” the report said. 

Respondents also saw a role for the public sector: About 30% said the state or federal government should play the primary role in helping to secure child care, compared to 18% that said the burden falls on the individual’s employer.  Almost 80% of respondents supported a federal policy that requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers who need to take care of a sick spouse, child or parent.

Child care in the U.S. is a particular challenge for working families: 11% of employers offer child care referral services, while only 4% offer subsidized programs, according to a 2019 study from the Society for Human Resource Management. That puts the primary burden of finding child care on parents themselves, particularly women, who have had to juggle work and care responsibilities throughout the pandemic. 

“Schools and child care services shuttered during the pandemic, and foisting the burden solely on the backs of parents has magnified the problem a hundredfold,” the report said. “Americans show that they need support, and welcome their employers to play a role in that space.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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