Working Parents Fear Job Loss Amid Child Care Woes - MagnifyMoney

30% of Working Parents Are ‘Terrified’ of Losing Job While Balancing Child Care

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With schools across the U.S. still struggling with reopening plans, many districts are turning to fully remote learning to begin the fall semester. This means working parents are having to manage both child care and jobs for longer than expected.

That could be troublesome, as a new MagnifyMoney survey of more than 1,000 parents reveals that the struggle to juggle child care with work has 3 in 10 employed parents “terrified” of losing their job. Our survey also reveals that parents of color and women are in a particularly bad position and are more likely than their white male counterparts to report less flexible employers.

Key findings

  • Three in 10 working parents are “terrified” of losing their job as they try to balance child care amid the pandemic. Men are more worried than women, while Black and Hispanic parents are more worried than white and Asian parents.
  • The lack of affordable child care causes concern, as 35% of working parents say they’re unable to afford a nanny or caregiver to care for their child while they work, despite wanting to do so. Meanwhile, 32% of all parents are at least considering taking on debt to cover child-care costs.
  • More than a third of working parents are contemplating job changes to aid them in caring for their child as the pandemic disrupts the school year.
  • Men are more likely than women to report their employer was very flexible as they work and care for their child — 52% and 41%, respectively. Also, working women are much more likely to say they’re staying home with their child while their partner works.
  • Parents of color face disproportionate challenges, as 12% of working Black and Hispanic parents feel completely unsupported by their employer’s lack of flexibility, compared with 5% of white parents and 3% of Asian parents.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 parents believe the government should provide child-care stipends to working parents amid the pandemic. Similarly, 36% said another round of stimulus checks would solve their child-care problems completely.

Working parents are terrified of losing job amid pandemic

Our survey found that (30%) of working parents are terrified that they will lose their job while trying to balance work with caring for their child amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Black parents (40%) and Hispanic parents (33%) are much more afraid of losing their job when compared with their white (29%) and Asian counterparts (27%).

Here’s a sampling of what we found for current working situations among working parents:

  • Full time from home (33%)
  • Full time on-site at employer (21%)
  • Split between remote and on-site work (8%)

While many parents are worried about losing their job while juggling child care, we found that more than half (55%) of parents prefer to work from home now. This could be attributed to concern over being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace or parents who can’t afford child care.

Looking at parents’ child-care plans for the fall, we discovered:

  • 41% said they will stay home with their child
  • 13% said at least one child is old enough to be left alone, so they don’t need child care
  • 12% said the child’s other parent will stay home

Notably, only 6% of parents will send their child to day care, and only 3% will hire a nanny or babysitter.

Not only will having to care for a child while working impacts how parents feel about job security, but it affects the course of their career path, too. Our survey found that to care for their child as COVID-19 disrupts the school year:

  • 18% of parents said they have or plan to reduce their hours at work
  • 12% have or plan to quit their job
  • 10% have or plan to switch to a more flexible job

We found that millennials (those ages 24 to 39) and single parents, in particular, were most likely to contemplate a job change due to the pandemic. This is particularly alarming, as it suggests younger workers and workers that may be more financially vulnerable are being forced to make changes that could stunt their career growth due to COVID-19.

Women, parents of color affected hardest by COVID-19 disruptions

Our survey discovered that not all working parents have been equally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions. Instead, women and parents of color are having a particularly difficult time when it comes to getting support from their employer.

When asked how flexible their employer has been while they care for their child while working, 14% of survey respondents said their employer was somewhat flexible, while 7% said their employer wasn’t flexible, leaving them feeling completely unsupported.

However, that number jumps to 12% of Black working parents and 12% of Hispanic working parents who feel unsupported by their employer. That’s a stark comparison to the 5% of white working parents and 3% of Asian working parents who said the same. As noted before, Black and Hispanic working parents were also much more likely than their white counterparts to fear losing their job due to balancing child care and work.

Additionally, many of our findings suggest that the burden of child care largely falls on the woman’s shoulders, although it’s worth noting that we didn’t ask the gender identity of the respondents’ partners.

For example:

  • More than 3 in 10 male respondents said their partner was working full time from home
  • Almost 4 in 10 female respondents said their partner was working full time and on-site at their employer

Meanwhile, we also found that women were more likely than men to say they planned to stay home with their child in the fall. Yet, at the same time, women were more likely than men to say they felt unsupported by their employer (9% versus 5%).

Overall, our findings underscore that parents of color and working mothers are facing more challenges when it comes to balancing child care and work amid the pandemic. This is especially troublesome, as it could widen the wealth gap between people of color and their white peers — as well as the wealth gap between men and women — if the challenges end up adversely impacting their careers.

Working parents are struggling financially, too

Our survey found that not only are working parents struggling to balance the demands of their job and child care, but many are struggling financially, too. This adds an extra layer of difficulty to the problems caused by the pandemic. We found that more than half of parents reported losing at least some of their income due to the pandemic.

We found that 35% of parents want to hire a nanny or caregiver to take care of their children while they work, but can’t afford to do so.

In fact, 32% of parents are at least somewhat considering going into debt to find child care for the fall semester. Of those parents considering going into debt:

  • 36% are considering taking on $1,000 to $2,4999 of debt
  • 29% are considering taking on $2,500 to $4,999 of debt

While hopes for another coronavirus relief package are starting to fade, our survey found that many working parents think they would benefit immensely from some sort of financial relief. Our survey reveals that 69% of respondents think that the government should provide working parents with child care stipends amid the pandemic.

Additionally, 70% said a second economic impact check would help at least a little bit with their child care concerns. This could potentially allow some consumers to put some of the money in a high-yield savings account, too.


MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,019 parents of children younger than 18. The survey was fielded July 31-Aug. 3, 2020.