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May 10, 2022 | Report

The Child Care Paradox: How Child Care Providers Balance Paid and Un-Paid Caregiving


Siri Anderson, Elisa Minoff

Publication Date:

May 2022

Care work is some of the most important work in our society, supporting children, families, and individuals across their lifespans. Often called “the workforce behind the workforce,” child care in particular is essential, skilled work critical both to the healthy development of children and as a support for caregivers and families. As research has consistently shown, children of all ages benefit from forming relationships with other adults who are not their primary caregivers. Caregivers also rely on child care in order to work, go to school, have respite, and balance other responsibilities, all while benefiting from the information and support they receive from trusted child care providers regarding their child’s development, parenting strategies, and more.

Despite the critical work child care providers do for families and society as a whole, their work is systematically undervalued. Even with the recent federal investments to stabilize a child care sector that has been decimated by the pandemic, child care continues to lack the infrastructure to ensure that all families have access to and can afford the type of child care they need. Policies also do not exist to ensure that child care providers are fairly compensated, have fair schedules, can access necessary supports for their jobs and their own families, and are respected in their work.