The economic and social upheaval caused by the events of the last several years is settling down, but our years living through the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the ways parents engage with work and with potential employers in a few dramatic ways, a new survey has found.
According to data compiled for the 2022 Parent Confidence Survey from KinderCare, a for-profit child care operator, parents are confident in their own abilities to provide for their children and in the abilities of their chosen care providers, but their expectations for their work/life balance have shifted dramatically. Here are the biggest takeaways from the fourth annual KinderCare Parent Confidence Survey.
1. Parents Want To Work From Home (Or Hybrid)
Working from home is not only viable but preferable for many people. Today, 37% of parents work at least a portion of their time from home, and 41% said a hybrid work environment is ideal.
Seventy-five percent of parents say that a hybrid work environment “has or will” change their childcare needs, with over half of parents surveyed saying they will depend on family or friends, on-demand care centers, and co-working spaces and play spaces for help with childcare. Others said they would rely on multiple childcare centers, babysitters, or nannies to care for children during in-office days if they moved to a hybrid environment.
2. Parents Believe Childcare Should Be Subsidized By Employers
The childcare crisis facing American parents is improving in fits and starts as more employers recognize the necessity of working with parents on childcare issues, but there’s still a ton of room for improvement. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said there is a disconnect between employers and childcare support, down from 67% last year.
Sixty-seven percent of parents believe employers should offset childcare costs, and 71% believe childcare should be guaranteed to any who need it. Sixty-six percent believe that Universal Childcare from birth to kindergarten should be provided to all Americans by the government, and 60% believe childcare costs should be capped at 7% of parents’ yearly income.
These findings crossed the political aisle, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents surveyed agreeing that the government should take a more active role in ensuring quality childcare to American families.
Almost two-thirds of the parents surveyed said they are “constantly thinking about childcare gaps,” and half said that cobbling together enough childcare is a huge source of stress. Parents also believe that access to high-quality childcare would allow them to be more present with their kids when they’re together.
3. Parents Want More Robust Family Benefits From Work
After health insurance, childcare is the most important benefit a potential employer could offer. Almost 20% of respondents ranked childcare benefits as the single most important, 46% ranked it in their top three most important, and 69% ranked it in their top five most important benefit. Over half of parents said they would stay at their job if they had more child care benefits offered to them, from on-site child care to pre-tax dependent care FSAs, to education funding, and more.
The other top benefits they want? More paid time off and retirement benefits.
4. Parents Want Flexible Work Schedules
Parents are more concerned than ever about being present in their children’s lives and say flexible work scheduling allows them more freedom for family time. Almost half of parents surveyed said they would change jobs to have more time to spend with their children, and 31% said they had already changed jobs to be more available to their children.
Survey respondents also admitted to staying at an unsatisfying job to have time available for their kids and relocating across state lines for more flexible work schedules.
Parents across the country are facing the same challenges and expecting the same changes from their employers and potential employers. Workplaces are catching on, but for many, the tweaks parents need are too few and far between.