Working Parents Are Struggling With Child Care

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Marsha Fisher
800.699.8011 x 71428


Raleigh, N.C. (February 27, 2019)

For the first time in 20 years, there are more jobs in the U.S. labor market than employees. As a result, employers are looking for new ways to retain their top workers. However they may be overlooking one of the key reasons employees are moving on.

A recent national poll of working parents commissioned by Workplace Options, the world’s largest independent provider of employee wellbeing support solutions, revealed that 23 percent of employees polled had considered quitting a job due to child care issues. The poll also found that women were three times more likely than men to have considered quitting over child care.

“Finding reliable and affordable child care is a burden for working parents,” explains Dean Debnam, Chief Executive Officer at Workplace Options. “But it’s also a costly issue for employers, in terms of turnover and absenteeism related to breakdowns in child care.”

Workplace Options’ poll results also revealed:

  • 37 percent of those polled reported they had missed work in the last three months due to a child care issue.
  • 41% of the women surveyed reported missing work due to child care issues, compared to 32% of the men surveyed.
  • 30 percent reported taking unpaid time off when child care issues caused them to miss work.
  • Among those in the 18-29 age range, 59 percent were required to take unpaid time off to take care of a child care issue.

A 2018 report by Child Care Aware reported U.S. businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion annually due to employee absenteeism as a result of child care breakdowns. Ernst & Young has reported that replacing a new mom who doesn’t return to work costs them an estimated 150 percent of her salary.

When it comes to how frequently employees miss work due to childcare issues, 22 percent reported “occasionally” while 7 percent reported “somewhat frequently” and 6 percent reported “very frequently.” Twelve percent of employees polled admitted they had lied to an employer about an absence that was due to a child care issue.

In an effort to support working parents and decrease absences related to breakdowns in child care, some employers are providing onsite child care. Others are offering parents resources to help them find child care, including emergency child care and sick child care.

In Workplace Options’ poll, 82 percent of employees reported their employers did not offer resources for finding child care. However, of those, 32 percent reported the service would be “helpful” and 18 percent said it would be “very helpful.”

Workplace Options partners with employers to provide childcare referral resources, including emergency back-up care, for working parents. “The first step is working with the parents to understand their specific child care needs including budget, location and preferred type of care,” shares Sarah Wood, director of global work-life operations at Workplace Options.

“After identifying child care resources that match what the parent is looking for, one of our team members will do the leg work to find out which of those options have openings or wait lists,” adds Wood. “We strive to provide the parent with three solid matches. It’s a huge time-saver and parents really value the support.”

The national poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling on January 14-17, 2019, and is based on responses from 518 working Americans who reported having at least one child under the age of 18. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent. Full results are available HERE

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About Workplace Options

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs.

Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world’s largest integrated employee support and work-life services provider. Service centers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Portugal, France, Belgium, UAE, Singapore, Japan, China, India and Indonesia support more than 58 million employees across 90,000 organizations and more than 200 countries and territories. To learn more, visit