Thursday, April 4th, 2013
The costs of child care have nearly doubled in the last 25 years, according to a new report based on census data. More from a release by the U.S. Census Bureau:
“Perhaps the most critical decision parents make in balancing their work and home life is choosing the type of care to provide for their children while they work,” said report author Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. “Child care arrangements and the financial burden they impose on families are important issues for policymakers and anyone concerned about the welfare of children. This report is unique in that it is not only the sole study from the Census Bureau on this topic, but also provides a consistent time-series on trends going back to the mid-1980s.”
Families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 (see chart) paid an average of $143 per week for child care in 2011, up from $84 in 1985 (in constant 2011 dollars).
The median wage for a full-time child care worker did not increase over the last 20 years. The median wage for a child care worker in 2011 was $19,098, not different from $19,680 in 1990 (in constant 2011 dollars).
The percent of families who reported they made a cash payment for child care for at least one of their children declined from 42 percent to 32 percent between 1997 and 2011.
Since 1997, the use of organized day care centers and father-provided care for preschoolers has increased, while the proportion of children cared for by nonrelatives in the provider’s home has declined. (There was a change in the data collection methodology in the mid-1990s; 1997 was the first year of data that was affected by this change.)
Image: Girl in day care, via Shutterstock
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Parents who urge their child care providers to focus more on learning than on vigorous physical play may be doing their kids a disservice, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Nearly three-quarters of American children between ages 3 and 5 are enrolled in some sort of child care, and the study reports that most of these kids spend most of their days doing sedentary activites.
The Washington Post’s parenting blogger Janice D’Arcy interviewed the study’s lead researcher and reports:
Providers told researchers that they felt pressure from parents to keep children from vigorous play that might lead to injury and also pressure to focus instead on academics.
The third consistent barrier was financial, as some providers said their funds were too limited to purchase up-to-code safe, outdoor equipment. (An ironic twist in this finding is that providers told researchers repeatedly that these “safer” playgrounds were oftentimes the least interesting to children.)
“We were surprised to hear that parents — both low-income and upper-income — were focusing on traditional ‘academics’ (letters, numbers, colors) instead of outdoor play, even for children as young as 3 years old,” lead author Kristen Copeland of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center wrote to me in an e-mail conversation about the report.
“At this age, many children don’t know how to skip, and are still learning how to share, and how to negotiate peer relationships. Yet teachers told us that many parents wanted to know what their child ‘learned’ that day, but were not interested in whether they had gone outside, or had mastered fundamental gross motor skills,” she said.
Interestingly, the study is released at the same time as other research that showed physical fitness to be directly related to improved academic performance, a finding that should
Richard Rende, Parents.com’s child psychology blogger, offered the following advice to parents who want to avoid sedentary habits in their children: “If you want to promote the optimal development and health of your toddler, make sure they have plenty of time for free play and physical activity. Convince yourself that this will be as important – if not more so – than the ‘academics’ they are learning during the preschool years. And do what you can to make sure they get it.”
Image: Preschool girl reading, via Shutterstock.