Cathleen D. Zick, Lori Kowaleski-Jones & Benjamin Greenwalt (2020) All in the family? The community context of childcare options and parents’ childcare choices, Community, Work & Family, DOI: 10.1080/13668803.2020.1719977

Childcare in the United States is an important issue impacting parents as they navigate a landscape characterized by challenging choices between parental care only, the price of paid childcare, and largely unpaid kin care. Drawing on guidance from the accommodation model, the current work extends the examination of childcare choices by including non-paid care and by using a sample of families across a broad range of incomes. Data from a statewide childcare survey linked to information regarding proximity of kin, unpaid childare, childcare prices, and other potentially relevant community characteristics are used in the empirical work. Multivariate analyses treat the mother’s employment decision and childcare choices as simultaneous decisions. We find that childcare choices are linked to community caracteristics inlcuding the price of licenced family-based childcare, proximity of kin, the percentage of adults in the community who have a college degree, and the community level unemployment rate. Our work suggests that childcare resource agencies should look at a range of community characteristics beyond area-level poverty rates when identifying communities of high need. The role of childcare information flows from the community to parents should also be the subject of future research.