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
|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|
|Race and Hispanic origin|
|Age of child|
|Under 1 year||18||21||11||7||17||19||7||0|
|Married, husband present||29||22||6||6||14||16||6||1|
|All other marital statusese||31||5||21||3||22||15||3||1|
|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|
|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|
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
Source: Casper, 1997, Tables B and 2.
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