Child-Care Woes Lead to Missed Work for One-fifth of Parents, University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati--Twenty percent of Ohio's working parents lost time from work last winter because of a problem with their child-care arrangements, according to a statewide survey conducted by the University of Cincinnati's Kunz Center for the Study of Work and Family.

In a March 1998 Survey of Ohio's Working Families, Ohio parents were asked how many times in the previous month they or their spouses had either arrived late for work, left work early or missed work entirely because of a problem with child care.

Eighty percent of those surveyed reported no child-care problems resulting in a work disruption in the prior month. But one-fifth said that either they or their spouses had lost some time from work on at least one occasion because of a child-care problem. (to see a chart on this question, click here)

Since the survey was distributed last winter, it is possible that the number of child-care problems is higher now during the summer months when school is out of session, said David J. Maume Jr., UC sociologist, Kunz Center director and author of the Ohio study.

In addition, working parents worried about their ability to monitor their children's activities. Fifty-three percent of working parents said they "very often," "fairly often" or "occasionally" found it difficult to monitor the activities of their children"; 47 percent of parents said they "rarely/never" had such difficulty.

Parents' child-care problems are aggravated when working for inflexible employers. For example, 26 percent of working parents agreed that there was "an unwritten rule that employees can't take care of family needs on company time." Forty-eight percent agreed that their careers would suffer if they "took time away from work to spend more time" with their families. Responses on these questions were significantly associated with reports of lost work time due to child-care problems.

The survey also found that the incidence of work disruptions due to child-care problems was unrelated to gender, family income, hours worked, or number and ages of children.

"Most people think that child-care problems affect career-minded women with young children. These results suggest that the number of work interruptions due to child care are similar for men and women, large families and small families, and full-time as well as part-time workers," said Maume.

More than 500 Ohio residents responded to the survey the Kunz Center mailed to randomly selected parents. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent.


Steve Carlton-Ford
Department of Sociology
University of Cincinnati
PO Box 210378
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0378
Phone: (513) 556-4716
Fax: (513) 556-0057