How Much of Children’s Time in Nonparental Care Coincides with Their Parents’ Time at Work?

Lisa A. Gennetian, A. Rupa Datta, Robert Goerge, Wladimir Zanoni, Richard Brandon, Ann Witte, Parvati Krishnamurty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nonparental care (NPC) for children before they enter kindergarten has had two primary purposes for American families since the start of the twentieth century: supporting parental employment and providing children developmentally enriching out-of-home experiences. Today’s policy makers are increasingly expanding publicly funded opportunities for children in low-income families to experience center-based care. Yet parents’ work commitments often occur on evenings, weekends, and other times outside of the traditional school day. Understanding parental work schedules vis-à-vis NPC timing is essential to informing public expansions of accessible and affordable nonparental care options. Using a 7-day calendar from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education, the authors uncover new patterns in the temporal synchronization of parental work and children’s time in various NPC settings and for households of varying incomes. Across all income groups and types of care, center-based care overlaps least with parental work hours. Children living in poverty have the lowest rates of NPC occurring during parental work time. The uncoupling of parental work status from children’s time in nonparental care suggests potential shifts in parents’ choices to expose children to care settings for the purpose of children’s development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2378023119894848
StatePublished - 2019


  • childcare
  • low-income families
  • parental work
  • prekindergarten
  • work-family balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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