Qualitative research suggests that day-to-day problems with child care produce significant costs for low-income mothers. But the relevance of daily child care problems for mothers of all socioeconomic backgrounds has been largely overlooked. This article asks two interrelated questions: What factors shape how often mothers experience child care disruptions? and What factors shape how often care disruptions lead mothers to miss work? Using the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (N = 1,309), which includes mothers across the socioeconomic spectrum, this research finds that low-income mothers, mothers whose shifts vary, mothers who rely on patchwork care, and mothers with low social support are likely to experience care disruptions. But only mothers with low social support and mothers who use certain types of child care face an elevated risk of missing work. The findings underscore the widespread nature of child care problems and their heightened impact on socially isolated mothers. (Author abstract)
A working paper of this article was published by the Center for Research on Child Well-being at Princeton University.