Majority of Parents in America Have No Child Care Plan for the Fall, But This Tool Could Help

Three out of five parents have no plan for school or child care this fall so the COVID-19 Child Care Decision Tool allows parents to assess the risks, benefits, and their unique circumstances in order to come up with a child care or school game plan for the fall.

As the 2020-2021 school year swiftly approaches, an overwhelming number of parents are unclear on their game plan for their child's return to the classroom (virtual, distanced, or hybrid) or child care. Given a variety of unknowns and variables, many are looking for concrete, science-driven guidance.

Enter Maven, an on-demand digital care clinic that assists mothers and families, which recently partnered with Emily Oster, author of Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool and professor of economics at Brown University, to develop the COVID-19 Child Care Decision Tool, which aims to help parents decide whether to send their children out of the home to school or daycare or keep them home for virtual learning.

maven covid-19 risk tool
Image courtesy of Maven

Here, the why and how behind the tool.

Parents Are Struggling to Plan for the Fall

Along with Wakefield Research, Maven commissioned a survey of 1,000 U.S. parents to get a read on just how much parents are struggling to make child care decisions and what factors are influencing their choices. Some of their key findings:

  • More than 3 in 5 parents do not have a clear plan for child care or school this fall. Those who have younger kids are facing more uncertainty: 72 percent of parents with kids age 5 and younger do not have a clear plan, compared with 44 percent of parents with kids between 11 and 17 years old who say they do have a clear plan.
  • Two-thirds of parents report feeling anxious as they navigate decisions about child care this fall. Parents whose youngest child is between 5 and 10 are more likely to be very anxious (50 percent) than those whose youngest child is less than 5 (37 percent) or between 11 and 17 (37 percent).
  • Nearly 60 percent of working parents say they do not feel supported by their employer as they navigate child care challenges. Parents with children under 5 feel less supported than parents with older children (ages 10 and up).

What the COVID-19 Child Care Decision Tool Does

In a press release, Kate Ryder, Founder and CEO of Maven, explained that the tool was developed to "help support parents as they make important decisions for their family, and hopefully bring them more confidence and peace of mind."

The free, interactive tool, available on and on Oster's, functions like a quiz and allows parents to weigh the risks, benefits, and their unique circumstances in order to land on a fitting child care and education solution for the fall.

Photo courtesy of Maven

Once parents receive their result from the tool, they can take advantage of Maven's other resources, like on-demand video appointments with family medical providers.

The Bottom Line

Attempting to navigate this uncharted territory has proven extremely stressful for families all over the country. It's a case for even more information and support. As Oster noted in the press release, "While there's no magic solution, there is a way to feel more in control over the process by which we make these big decisions. By giving parents a clearer framework for weighing the choices, risks, and benefits against their own set of values and circumstances, I’m hopeful that we can help them reason their way to more confident decisions."

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