When the Covid-19 pandemic removed the safety net of schooling and employee-paid child care for working families, the damage was cataclysmic. Without a stable form of childcare as part of the business infrastructure, the world stopped working for the vast majority of working parents around the world. One third of the U.S. workforce, or an estimated 50 million workers, has a child under 14 in their household. As researchers, practitioners, and mothers ourselves, we wanted examine the role childcare played in the employment decisions made by families and more importantly, what those choices can teach us about the needs of working parents moving forward.

In our national panel survey of 2,500 working parents we found that nearly 20% of working parents had to leave work or reduce their work hours solely due to a lack of childcare. Only 30% of all working parents had any form of back-up childcare, and there were…

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