Two national surveys on life during the pandemic are painting pictures of how parents and child care providers are coping.

One initial survey comes from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has “launched a new longitudinal study to understand how lack of childcare is affecting working parents” whose children are younger than six, a survey report explains.

The chamber has divided its findings into two categories: “(1) Common Experience, and (2) Childcare Equation and Returning to Work.”

Two of the “common experiences:” more parents are working remotely, and more children are staying at home – although race and class skew these findings. Remote work, for example, is “more commonly afforded to high-income (73%) and white (54%) parents. Comparatively, only 24% of low-income parents, 40% of Black parents, and 34% of Hispanic or Latino parents are working remotely.”

In the second category of findings — “Childcare Equation and Returning to Work” – the chamber has found substantial challenges.

Long before COVID-19, parents created their “Childcare Equation,” the report says, deciding how much child care they needed. Now, in the middle of the pandemic, “parents have been forced to drastically adjust their equation.” Parents have set up short-term, “unsustainable childcare arrangements,” and they wonder “if they will be able to return to work at all.”

Among the specific findings:

• 60 percent of parents will “need to change their current childcare arrangement within the next year, and of those parents, more than half will need to change their arrangement within the next three months”

• 12 percent of working parents “are unlikely to return to their same work situation” and an additional 10 percent are “unsure whether they will return or not,” and

• 36 percent of parents said that employers could help by offering flexible work hours

“In this environment, work flexibility is paramount for parents,” the chamber report says.

The chamber will continue this work, collecting “data from employers and childcare providers to understand how COVID-19 has impacted childcare from multiple vantage points,” and releasing “findings from multiple vantage points of those impacted by the childcare challenges, including parents, employers, and childcare providers.”


In a report called “Holding on Until Help Comes,” the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) underscores a grim fact: if the country does not save early education and care programs now, those programs will close and there won’t be much left to save.

“The US economy will suffer the consequences as families returning to work can’t find quality, reliable care for their children,” the report says. The survey collected responses from 5,300 child care providers nationwide.

Among the survey’s findings:

• “approximately two out of five respondents—and half of those who are minority-owned businesses—are certain that they will close permanently without additional public assistance”

• “nationally, 18% of child care centers and 9% of family child care homes remain closed. Of those who are open, 86% of respondents are serving fewer children now than they were prior to the pandemic. On average, enrollment is down by 67%.”

• “upwards of 70% of child care centers are incurring substantial, additional costs for staff (72%), cleaning supplies (92%), and personal protective equipment (81%).”

• 1 in 4 early childhood educators say they have applied for or received unemployment benefits, and

• “73% of programs indicated that they have or will engage in layoffs, furloughs, and/or pay cuts,” and 88 percent of minority-owned businesses have or will do the same

Behind the statistics are tough challenges such as plunging enrollment and steady or rising costs. As one Texas child care provider says:

“I’m taking it one week at a time, but we don’t have enough students to pay the teachers, and teachers can’t work without enough students, and parents keep saying they need us and please stay open, but they don’t know when they will come back. We have so much expertise and we work so hard but we can’t do this without assurance and support.”

Rhian Evans Allvin, NAEYC’s CEO, sums up the challenge, saying:

“The child care sector is approaching this catastrophic situation with both courage and determination. At the same time, providers rightly are weary, skeptical, and scared. As a country, we have a choice to make. Are we going to continue to underfund and undervalue a system that is the backbone to the rest of the economy or are we going to make the necessary investments that recognize the essential nature of child care?”

Please share these surveys’ results with your networks and ask your state and federal policymakers to take action by investing in families and the child care systems.