Recent Trends in U.S. Child Care

(October 2010) Working parents in the United States face complex decisions on the type of care to provide for their children while they are at work, and child care costs continue to rise. As more families include working mothers, child care has become the norm in the United States. Almost two-thirds of preschoolers are in some kind of regular child care arrangement. The U.S. Census Bureau’s recent report “Who’s Minding the Kids?” tracks data on child care arrangements by income level, race/ethnicity, family arrangement, and more. The report provides an analysis of data released in February 2008. These data show the number and characteristics of children in different types of child care arrangements, the differences between child care for preschoolers and older children, and the extent of self-care. Information is also provided about the cost of child care arrangements and the number of fathers providing care for their children. Additionally, the report examines new topics such as summer child care arrangements for both preschoolers and grade-schoolers.

In this interview, Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau and author of the report, discusses trends in child care over the past 20 years, how families deal with increasing facility-based care costs, and how extended families still play an integral role in caring for children.