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The illusion of parent choice: Lessons learned from BPC’s parent survey series


In October 2019, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) conducted its first national survey of parents in hopes of answering the question, “do parents prefer child care closer to home or work?” BPC also wanted to know how the gap in the supply of child care impacts parents and their choices. Our first survey revealed that parents prefer child care closer to home. However, this survey also raised further questions about parent choice. Why do parents choose certain child care arrangements? What factors are most important to parents? As BPC set to investigate in early 2020 the pandemic and its impact on families shifted our course as we rapidly transitioned to focus on COVID-19’s impact on child care, including closures, increased safety measures, and how remote work impacted the need for child care. BPC’s survey work continued, and we learned more about parents’ child care challenges- before, during, and following the pandemic. These surveys touched on the cost of child care, parent work schedules, and child care needs, and two surveys focused on the unique challenges Native and rural parents face. To date, BPC has conducted ten surveys, providing a comprehensive view of parent needs. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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