A New Childcare Survey Reveals What Parents Want When Sending Their Children to Daycare

September 10, 2021

For most parents of young children, back to school has a whole new meaning this September. After an unprecedented year where many parents were left with no childcare while continuing to work from home, parents are desperate for some return to normalcy this fall. However, as companies call workers back to the office and uncertainty grows with the spread of the Delta variant, parents are becoming increasingly uneasy about their daycare options.

“Finding safe, affordable childcare was a challenge prior to the pandemic, and parents are now even more stressed out about their options,” said Dana Levin-Robinson, CEO and co-founder of Upfront. “The Upfront Childcare Survey highlights the anxiety that parents are feeling about making the decision to send their child to daycare either as previously enrolled child or for the first time.”

Key Insights from the 2021 Upfront Childcare Survey

  • The majority of parents want mandatory vaccination for daycare staff. 77% of parents want mandatory vaccinations for all staff and 72% of parents are willing to share the vaccination status of their household with a facility.
  • Parents don’t want kids to have to quarantine unless absolutely necessary. Only 30% of parents are comfortable with quarantining for one week if their child shows at least one COVID-19 symptom. That number increases to 53% if their child is showing multiple COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Masking is not as critical as vaccination. Only half of parents want masks to be mandatory for staff and children 2+ indoors.

What protocols do parents want childcare facilities to implement regarding COVID-19?

  • 79% of parents want notification of potential COVID-19 exposure
  • 50% of parents would like smaller class sizes or reduced capacity
  • 48% of parents are supportive of daily temperature screenings
  • 44% of parents want childcare facilities to require mandatory quarantine after travel
  • 34% of parents want facilities to conduct virtual-only tours for prospective families

What protocols are families willing to follow regarding COVID-19?

  • 87% of parents are willing to inform facilities of potential COVID-19 exposure
  • 75% of parents are willing to share out of state or country travel plans
  • 72% of parents are willing to share the vaccination status of their household

Parents are willing to pay more for daycare facilities that have some or all of these protocols in place. In fact, over 70% of parents are likely to pay more for daycares with desirable COVID-19 practices in place such as mandatory vaccination for staff, mandatory masks for staff and children 2+, and reduced capacity.

Mother putting mask on son

Parent Sentiments

The survey also asked open-ended questions about the impact of COVID-19 on careers and what parents are looking for in any future employers. 

A few themes emerged:

  • Without consistent child care parents, especially working mothers, have been forced to make unwanted choices about their careers. Multiple parents described having to refuse career opportunities, reject new clients (thereby limiting their income), or take forced unpaid leave because of lack of childcare. 
  • Now more than ever parents expect that any career or job includes some level of flexibility. Parents want careers that allow them to be home with their children on an as-needed basis. But by prioritizing flexibility parents are being forced to sacrifice things like personal goals and money.
  • Pre-pandemic, finding affordable childcare was a huge challenge for parents and now it’s even harder. Parents are confronted with reduced capacity, increased costs, and shorter hours, yet the expectations from work have stayed the same. The lack of options has forced parents to choose options that require a longer commute or completely stretch their budgets.

What should parents do if they decide to send their child to daycare?

  • Ask for written documentation of all COVID-19 policies and make sure you understand what the facility is actually requiring families to do versus recommending. 
  • Figure out the best options for your child to be COVID-19 tested before you actually need it. It may be your child’s doctor’s office but there may be other options like pharmacies and urgent care facilities that can provide faster results. 
  • Plan all travel only when you know the policy for families from your facility so you can allocate time to getting tested or quarantining upon your return.
  • If possible request information on the vaccination status of staff members or at least any caregivers that will be in direct contact with your child.

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