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How is pandemic child care affecting parents' work, finances?

One survey shows that 15% of parents think they may have to quit their jobs to handle child care during the continuing coronavirus epidemic.
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Parents across the country are thinking about changing their work plans — or even quitting — because they are caring for children at home due to the coronavirus epidemic, two new surveys show.

UrbanSitter surveyed 500 parents, and 72% said they don't have childcare; 70% say it's difficult to work from home with kids. One in five respondents said they were more likely to quit their job now than before the pandemic, and the majority of parents surveyed said that their biggest concern about work-life balance was managing childcare.

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According to the survey of 2,000 parents, 73% of parents say that they may have to make "major changes at work," with 44% of those respondents saying they would be interested in amending their schedules, 21% saying they may look for a different job and 15% saying that they may need to leave the workforce entirely.

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Earlier in the summer, TODAY Parents spoke to parents who were unsure what they'd do about child care if schools remained closed in the fall. With most major school systems in the country starting the year online and the coronavirus pandemic entering a new, '"extraordinarily widespread" phase, those worries remain.

"I get nauseated thinking about our most likely scenario for the fall, which will be remote learning and requires lots of hands-on time with them," Madison Agee, a communications director for a large medical center in Nashville, Tennessee, whose children are 12 and 8, told TODAY in July. "They require direction to stay on task and that is a huge time and energy requirement. It’s just not tenable when I am on Zoom calls eight hours a day."

According to University of Maryland economics professor Melissa Kearney, just 16% of Americans have a non-working spouse at home who can supervise and take care of children. The UrbanSitter survey said that in more than 40% of families, one parent was managing most of the childcare.

The UrbanSitter survey showed that many families can't afford the child care that would be needed for them to return to work: Many said the best thing their employers could do would be offer childcare benefits. According to the survey, 67% of respondents who don’t currently receive employer-subsidized child care say that they’d be more loyal to their current job if they did (the percentage increased to 74% for those with children under 4).

Another concern for parents is the relative safety of child care. According to the UrbanSitter survey, 57% of families said that they would want some sort of nanny or au pair if cost were no issue; 64% of parents said they were worried about returning their kids to daycare. Parents said they would want child care providers to take extra precautions like isolating themselves when not with children, taking their temperature daily, and keeping children isolated.

The survey showed one bright spot: Workplaces may be a bit more amenable to parents juggling child care and workplace responsibilities. While 66% of parents said that managing both "caused their productivity to suffer," 43% of respondents said they felt that their employers are more tolerant of them managing children while working than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.