Childcare options are a dealbreaker for many American working parents

While the pandemic has continued to influence where and how Americans work, recent research by The Harris Poll on behalf of Yahoo Finance reveals just how much employment is also influenced by childcare obligations.

Childcare needs are very influential on current employment situation 

A large majority (76%) of working parents agree that their child/children’s childcare needs are very influential on their current employment situation, such as employment status, choice of employer and hours or availability. Sixty-seven percent of mothers agree while 79% of fathers do.

Based on factors surveyed, flexibility in working hours is the most influential factor on whether working parents’ accept an employment offer.

Sixty-eight percent of working parents say they would be more likely to accept an offer of employment from an employer that offers flexible scheduling for childcare needs. About the same amount (62%) of working parents also say they would be more likely to accept employment based on the offer of a monthly childcare stipend. 

Sixty-two percent of working parents say they would be more likely to accept an offer of employment based on an offer of free onsite daycare. Comparatively, only about half (53%) say they would be more likely to accept the offer if onsite daycare was offered for a fee. 

Affording adequate and trustworthy childcare can be difficult and overwhelming

Of the 83% of working parents who currently use childcare services, they most frequently use supervision from another adult that they know personally, followed by after-school programs. 

Forty-one percent of working parents rely on supervision from a familiar adult while 34% rely on after-school programs. In general, fathers are more likely (39%) to rely on after-school programs compared to mothers (14%). 

Nannies are the least popular choice, with only 15% of working parents relying on a nanny, likely due to nannies being cost prohibitive for many parents.

About 2 in 5 (39%) working parents struggle to afford adequate childcare. Seventy-one percent of working parents agree that managing their children’s childcare decisions is overwhelming, and 69% agree that trustworthy childcare services have been hard to find. 

Determining at which age children no longer require supervision isn’t black and white

A majority of Americans (65%) believes that children ages 13+ no longer require childcare and are old enough to stay at home without additional supervision. 

That said, all fathers with children under 18 are more likely to believe that older children need supervision. A third (32%) of dads believe that children ages 16+ require childcare compared to only 10% of mothers (with children under 18). 

Mothers hold slightly more primary responsibility over childcare than fathers do. Sixty-one percent of all mothers with children under 18 hold the primary responsibility over childcare compared with 55% of fathers, a trend that holds true among working moms and dads, as well. 


This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Yahoo Finance between September 17-20, 2021, among 1,066 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For more information on methodology, please contact Dami Rosanwo.

Download the full data tables here.