Press Releases

Grandparents are Serving as Key Support for Working Parents When Formal Child Care Arrangements Fall Through

September 7, 2008

National Survey Shows Majority of Grandparents Provide Some Form of Child Care to Grandchildren

Survey Also Shows Grandparents Believe Affordable Child Care is a Necessity for Working Parents and Support Public Policies That Will Strengthen Child Care in This Country

Arlington, VA - According to the results of a nationwide survey of grandparents released today by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), more and more grandparents are serving as a key support for working parents when formal child care arrangements fall through by providing child care for grandchildren themselves.  According to the survey, 40 percent of grandparents (with grandchildren under 13 that live less than an hour away) are currently providing child care for grandchildren.  Aside from providing regular child care, grandparents are often involved in providing back up care (50 percent), sick care (31 percent), before and after care (27 percent) and summer care (38 percent currently).  Additionally, the survey shows that more than one third of grandparents have changed their work schedules in order to provide care for their grandchildren.

Survey results show that grandparents provide child care for grandchildren for a number of different reasons.  The top two reasons reported by grandparents for providing child care for their grandchildren were to help parents with their work schedule (40 percent) and to spend more time with their grandchildren (22 percent).   The survey also shows that the majority of grandparents are caring for their grandchildren for fewer than 25 hours a week.

"This poll shows that grandparents are a critical child care support for families," said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA.  "They are helping parents on a regular basis every week and pitching in when parents need them most for back-up care and when their grandchildren are sick."

According to the survey, grandparents believe that affordable child care is a necessity.  The majority of grandparents surveyed support improving the quality and affordability of child care to make affordable, high-quality child care a reality for all working parents.  Almost 90 percent of grandparents strongly support requiring training for providers, including classes in child development, First Aid and CPR, child guidance and discipline, and in recognizing child abuse.  Grandparents also overwhelmingly support requiring inspections of child care programs, setting basic standards of quality, and improving health and safety standards.  Furthermore, almost two-thirds of grandparents (67 percent) are willing to pay $10 more in taxes each year to make child care more affordable for families. 

"The results of this survey reveal that grandparents recognize the tremendous need for affordable, high-quality child care in this country," said Smith.  "Right now, there is a serious shortage of quality care.  This survey makes it evident that grandparents want the same things for their grandchildren as parents want for their children: an affordable, safe and healthy environment to ensure peace of mind."

There are approximately 300,000 regulated family child care homes and 117,000 regulated child care centers in the United States, but nearly half of children under age 6 who need child care have no access to licensed or regulated care due to the lack of supply.   High-quality care is even scarcer.  Research has shown that only about 10 percent of all child care in the United States is of high quality.  And those that may find it are often unable to afford it, with average annual costs often exceeding mortgage and college tuition costs. 

Child care is a necessity for many working parents.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.3 million children under age 5 in the United States have working mothers.  About 3.3 million of these children (30 percent) are in the care of their grandparents for some period of time every week.  Also each week, about 4.7 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are regularly in the care of their grandparents. 

NACCRRA's grandparent survey, designed to gain a better understanding of grandparents' involvement in the care of grandchildren and their perceptions and beliefs regarding child care, was conducted by Lake Research Partners in August 2008 with 500 grandparents with grandchildren under the age of 18.  For questions answered by the entire sample, the margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.