Parents are Leaving the Workforce to Care for Their Children Because of Cost, Scarcity of High-Quality Childcare


The cost and lack of available high-quality childcare is forcing some North Carolina parents to leave the workforce.

Rather than pay more than they can afford for high-quality childcare or settle for lower-quality care so they can continue to work, parents are opting to take a break from the workforce and remain home with their children, according to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health and the Center for American Progress (CAP).

More than 62,000 North Carolina parents with children five and under quit a job, turned down a job or greatly changed their job in 2016 because of issues finding care providers, according to a CAP report released in September, which analyzed data from the the most recent National Survey of Children’s Health. Nationally, almost two million parents of children ages five and younger had to quit a job, turn down a job or greatly change their job because of issues finding care providers.

The report was issued on the heels of another CAP report that revealed over half the country lives in a childcare desert, or a ZIP code with either no or very few, overcrowded childcare providers.

Childcare Sacrifices State by State

Chart courtesy of the Center for American Progress via Working Mother.

The CAP report is one of several recent reports that highlight U.S. parents’ struggle to work and have children:
  • A Washington Post poll revealed that 75 percent of mothers and 50 percent of fathers in the United States say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit altogether to tend to their kids.
  • An annual University of Michigan survey of young Americans’ attitudes and values show that about two percent of 18-year-old women expect to be stay-at-home mothers at the age of 30. However, 15-18 percent of American women actually become stay-at-home parents by age 30, which suggests that many women who expect to combine work and motherhood reverse course, according to a Wall Street Journal article published this week.
  • A New York Times poll shows that the cost of childcare, concerns about affording children and a lack of paid time off are among the top 10 reasons Americans are having fewer children.