Nontraditional Work Hours Influence Child Care Choices for Working Families

Jan 22, 2013

By Christine Johnson-Staub

Virtually all working parents must rely on some form of child care so they can get and keep their jobs, and it's often a struggle for them to find quality care. Children in low-income households, in particular, stand to benefit from high quality child care and early education. But the realities of the low-income workforce - including non-traditional and varying work schedules - make it particularly challenging to find and afford traditional licensed child care programs.

To understand the needs of low-income working families and their child care providers, Illinois Action for Children recently examined the child care utilization of 50 single parents working nontraditional hours. The findings have been released in the report Choices in the Real World: the use of family, friend and neighbor child care by single Chicago mothers working nontraditional schedules. The study found that cost, flexibility, and availability during nontraditional hours frequently led low-income parents to use license-exempt family, friend and neighbor (FFN) child care providers. According to the agency, in October 2012, 42 percent of Chicago children receiving Illinois Child Care Assistance were served in FFN child care.

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