When Child Care Fails: Young Mothers’ Experiences with Missed Work and Child Care Problems
Margaret L. Usdansky, Syracuse University
Douglas A. Wolf, Syracuse University
Today, a majority of families with children are headed by dual-career couples or single parents, who juggle paid employment and unpaid familial responsibilities. But responsibility for child rearing continues to fall disproportionately on mothers, who perform more at-home child care than fathers and are more likely to manage household routines. In this paper, we examine predictors of mothers’ missed work when regular child care arrangements fail. Using the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, which follows a cohort of 4,898 children born to mostly unmarried mothers in large U.S. cities, we examine how often mothers’ regular child care arrangements fall through, how often child care problems cause mothers to miss work and how often mothers report stress stemming from work-child care conflicts. By examining mothers’ experiences when children are one- and three-years old, we are able to assess variation in the prevalence and predictors of work-child care problems over time.