Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. ES 3.3 Child Care

01/01/2000

The child care needs of American families have been increasing over the past several decades as mothers have moved into the labor force in ever greater numbers. Child care that is reliable and of high quality is especially important for infants and preschoolers because they are dependent on caregivers for their basic needs and safety.

Child-Care Centers and Preschools. Working mothers with preschool children have increasingly chosen care provided in day care centers and preschools. In 1965, only 8 percent of mothers working full-time chose day care centers and preschools for child care (see Table ES 3.3.A). By 1994, 34 percent did so. Similarly, for children whose mothers worked part-time, use of child care centers and preschools increased from 3 percent in 1965 to 22 percent in 1994.

Child Care in a Nonrelative’s Home. For children of full-time working mothers, care in a nonrelative’s home ranged from 25 to 27 percent between 1977 and 1988, then declined to 18 percent by 1994. Similarly, for children whose mothers worked part-time, care in a nonrelative’s home peaked at 21 percent in 1986 and has since declined to 10 percent.

Child Care at Home. The fraction of children of full-time working mothers cared for at their home by either relatives or nonrelatives was 26 percent in 1994, compared with 21 percent in 1988 and 47 percent in 1965. The fraction of children of part-time working mothers cared for at home was 45 percent in 1994, compared with 42 percent in 1984-1985 and 47 percent in 1965 (see Table ES 3.3.A).

Child Care Arrangements by Various Child and Family Characteristics. Table ES 3.3.B presents 1994 estimates of the distribution of child-care types used by all working mothers (regardless of hours worked) by child’s race and Hispanic origin and age, mother’s marital status and educational attainment, poverty status, monthly income, and AFDC program participation status. The information in this table indicates the following:

  • Relatives usually care for employed mothers’ children before their first birthday. In 1994, 56 percent of infants were cared for by relatives either inside or outside the child’s home (see Figure ES 3.3). Among toddlers (ages 1-2), about half (51 percent) were cared for by relatives, while the other half were split about evenly between day care centers and preschools (26 percent) and nonrelatives (22 percent). Among children of preschool age (ages 3-4), 44 percent were cared for by relatives, another 37 percent in day care centers and preschools, and 16 percent by nonrelatives.
  • Hispanic families were less likely than white and black non-Hispanics to use day care centers and preschools. In 1994, 19 percent of Hispanic children of working mothers were cared for in day care centers and preschools, compared with 31 percent of non-Hispanic white children and 34 percent of non-Hispanic black children.
  • Children of employed mothers with higher socioeconomic status were the most likely to be receiving care from a day care center or preschool. For example, 22 percent of poor children under age 5 received care from such sources, compared with 30 percent of nonpoor children.

Table ES 3.3.A Percentage distribution of child care arrangements of children under age 5 in the United States with employed mothers, by mother’s employment status: Selected years, 1965-1994

  1965a,b 1977b 1982b 1984-85 1986 1987 1988 1991 1993 1994
Mother employed full-time
     Day care center or preschool 8 15 20 30 26 28 31 28 34 34
   Nonrelative care in provider's home 20 27 25 27 26 25 27 21 18 18
     Grandparent/other relative in relative's home 18 21 21 16 18 14 14 14 17 17
   Father in child's home 10 11 11 10 11 10 8 15 11 13
   Other care in child's homec 37 18 16 13 15 15 13 15 15 13
   Other care outside child's homed 7 8 7 4 5 8 7 7 5 5
Mother employed part-time
   Day care center or preschool 3 9 8 17 16 18 17 15 23 22
   Nonrelative care in provider's home 8 16 19 14 21 18 17 13 14 10
   Grandparent/other relative in relative's home 9 13 16 16 14 13 11 11 13 13
      Father in child's home 23 23 21 22 21 25 27 29 25 28
       Other care in child's homec 24 20 20 18 14 15 14 17 15 17
   Other care outside child's homed 33 19 26 13 13 13 14 15 10 10

a Data for 1965 are for children under 6 years old.

b Data for 1982 and earlier are based on survey questions that asked about care arrangements for the youngest child in the family. Percentages for 1982 and earlier have been recalculated after removal of cases in “don’t know” category.

c Includes care by relatives and nonrelatives.

d Includes children who are cared for by their mother at work or in kindergarten or school-based activities.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-23, 117, Table A; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-70, 9, 20, 30, 36, and 53 (Table 1 in each); Casper, 1997; Current Population Reports, PPL 81 (Tables B and 2).


Table ES 3.3.B Percentage distribution of child care arrangements of children under age 5 in the United States with employed mothers, by selected characteristics: 1994

  Day Care Center/ Preschoola Father in Child's Home Other Relative in Child's Home Nonrelative in Child's Home Relative in Another Home Nonrelative in Another Home Mother Cares for Childb Other Care Arrange- mentsc
All preschoolers 29 18 9 5 16 15 5 1
Race and Hispanic origin
    White, non-Hispanic 31 20 7 6 14 16 7 1
    Black, non-Hispanic 34 11 13 2 23 13 3 2
    Hispanicd 19 17 15 6 24 15 2 2
    Other 21 22 19 6 12 15 3 2
Age of child
    Under 1 year 18 21 11 7 17 19 7 0
    Ages 1-2 26 19 10 5 18 17 4 0
    Ages 3-4 37 17 8 4 13 12 6 2
Marital status
    Married, husband present 29 22 6 6 14 16 6 1
    All other marital statusese 31 5 21 3 22 15 3 1
Educational attainment
    Less than high school 20 24 15 4 20 12 5 1
    High school, 4 years 26 17 11 3 19 16 5 1
    College, 1-3 years 32 21 7 4 14 14 6 1
    College, 4+ years 35 15 6 9 11 17 5 1
Poverty statusf
    Below poverty 22 18 15 4 20 11 10 1
    Above poverty 30 19 9 5 15 16 5 1
Monthly family incomef
    Less than $1,200 24 17 11 4 22 15 6 1
    $1,200 to $2,999 26 22 10 3 19 13 6 1
    $3,000 to     $4,499 27 19 10 4 15 18 6 2
    $4,500 and over 36 15 7 9 12 16 5 1
Program participation
    AFDC recipient 27 15 17 3 18 11 6 2
    AFDC nonrecipient 29 19 9 5 16 16 5 1

a Includes day care centers, nursery schools, and preschools.

b Includes mothers working at home or away from home.

c Includes preschoolers in kindergarten and school-based activities.

d Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race

e Includes married, spouse absent, widowed, separated, divorced, and never married.

f Omits preschoolers whose families did not report income.

Source: Casper, 1997, Tables B, 1, and 2.


Figure ES 3.3 Percentage distribution of child care arrangements of children under age 5 in the United States with employed mothers, by age of child: 1994​

Figure ES 3.3 Percentage distribution of child care arrangements of children under age 5 in the United States with employed mothers, by age of child: 1994Source: Casper, 1997, Tables B and 2.

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