In families where mothers are in the workforce, 32 percent of fathers are regular sources of child care, and one in five fathers are the primary source of child care, a new study released by the Census Bureau has found. The report, a series of tables called "Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010," tracked a typical week, during which 61 percent of all American children under age 5 had some kind of child care arrangement.
The changing economy accounts for some of the heightened involvement of fathers, researchers say.
"A recession may force families to adjust their child care arrangements, " Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer at the Census Bureau, said in a statement. "It can trigger unemployment or changes in work hours, thus increasing the availability of fathers to provide child care. It also can reduce available income to pay for child care outside of the home."
Other highlights from the report include:
- In households with working moms, family members continue to serve as an important source of child care for preschoolers. In spring of 2010, 30 percent of preschoolers were regularly cared for by their grandparents, 29 percent were cared for by their fathers, and 12 percent received care from a sibling or other relative.
- Preschoolers with employed black and Hispanic mothers were more likely to be cared for by their grandparents than their fathers. Twenty-nine percent of black preschoolers were cared for by their grandparents, while a quarter (22 percent) were cared for by their fathers. A third of Hispanic preschoolers were regularly taken care of by their grandparent, compared with 29 percent who received care from their fathers.
- Among preschoolers of employed non-Hispanic white mothers, 30 percent were cared for by their fathers and 29 percent were cared for by their grandparents.
- Of the 21 million mothers who were employed in the spring of 2010, one-third reported they paid for child care for at least one of their children.
- Families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 paid an average of $138 per week for child care in 2010, up from $81 in 1985 (in constant 2010 dollars), the first year that these data were collected.
Image: Father playing with his child, via Shutterstock.