NJ Parents Leaving Work To Care For Toddlers Amid COVID-19: Study

NEW JERSEY — A study is finding more New Jersey parents are being forced to leave work and stay home to provide childcare for their toddlers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll conducted a survey of more than 900 parents of infants and toddlers in August with support from The Nicholson Foundation. The poll focused on the situations parents with toddlers have been dealing with in regards to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the state reopened child care on June 15, the study found that 38 percent of New Jersey parents with children under 3 years old — predominantly women — were driven out of the workforce due to COVID-19 and reduced affordable quality child care options.

More Hispanic (53 percent) and Black (41 percent) families report their child care costs have increased when compared to that of non-Hispanic White families (31 percent).

Looking at some quick statics from the study, since the pandemic began:

  • Nearly 40 percent of parents using child care surveyed said it was more difficult to find affordable child care for 0 to 3-year-olds.

  • More than one in 10 parents of young children in New Jersey indicated they quit their jobs to help manage child care, with six times more women impacted than men

  • 17 percent of parents indicated they were forced to reduce their hours and 8 percent said they took an unpaid leave of absence.

“Even under normal circumstances, balancing child care and work can be challenging. COVID-19 has certainly made it much harder,” said Kimberly Boller, Ph.D., Chief Strategy and Evaluation Officer at The Nicholson Foundation. “COVID-19 has greatly increased the child care burden on parents, making it more difficult to work outside the home and find high-quality, affordable care for infants and toddlers.”

Although 74 percent of parents said they used child care from January through March, the number of parents of infants and toddlers using child care decreased to 58 percent since June 15.

The decline could be linked to parents’ worries of safety, with more than a third (35 percent) of those who chose not to use child care after June 15 said they were worried about COVID-19 exposure.

Much of the child care responsibilities have shifted to family members with 50 percent of parents chose to have help from a relative.

Since June 15, grandparents (75 percent) bear the bulk of the care. This means that overall, a third of all child care for infants and toddlers since June 15 is being provided by grandparents.

“The findings of this survey confirm that child care is a critical need for children, parents and the
economy,” said Cecilia Zalkind, President & CEO, Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “We must
fully invest in high-quality child care for infants and toddlers if we want to support both their intellectual and emotional growth and get people back to work.”

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This article originally appeared on the Bridgewater Patch

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