More Children without Stay-Home Moms Go to Day Care: Economic Conditions Help Families Afford Price of Preschool Facilities

By Price, Joyce | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 24, 1996 | Go to article overview
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More Children without Stay-Home Moms Go to Day Care: Economic Conditions Help Families Afford Price of Preschool Facilities


Price, Joyce, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Nearly a third of preschoolers with working mothers went to child care facilities in 1993, up from less than a quarter two years earlier, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The report - titled "Who's Minding Our Preschoolers?" - said the 30 percent of youngsters in organized day care in 1993 was an all-time high, up from 23 percent in 1991.

"Income and economics have been driving how people choose to care for their kids," said Lynne Casper, a statistician and demographer in the Census Bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and the report's author.

She said an even greater share of preschool children will be enrolled in child care centers in the future "if the economic situation stays where it is."

The trend will continue, she said, if women with small children continue to enter and stay in the work force, if the "economic situation is good" for them to afford day care, and if "child care remains at the prices" now charged.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.3 percent of mothers with children under age 6 were in the work force in 1995. That's up from 46.8 percent in 1980, bureau spokesman Howard Heagy said.

Miss Casper's study found that the proportion of children in child care grew steadily - from 23 percent to 27 percent - between 1985 and 1990. It dropped back to 23 percent in 1991.

"There was a recession in 1991, so not as many people could afford it, and there were fathers who were unemployed who could take care of their kids," Miss Casper said in an interview.

The study found a significant increase in the percentage of preschoolers cared for by their fathers between 1988 and 1991. That proportion fell from 20 percent in 1992 to 16 percent in 1993.

"The 1993 data suggest that the increase in care by fathers previously noted between 1988 and 1991 was not the result of a growing social trend for fathers to become more involved in the rearing of their children, but apparently an outcome driven more by the economy and the attendant economic circumstances of families with young children," Miss Casper said.

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