Mar 27

Dads Do More With the Kids…

Dana E. Friedman, Ed.D., EYI President

 A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that fathers are counted on for more ongoing child care than in years past.  Based on 2010 data, 32 percent of fathers with a wife in the workforce were a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26 percent in 2002. Among fathers with preschool-age children, one in five fathers were the primary caregiver – meaning their children spent more time with them than anyone else.

The increase is due to a confluence of several factors:  There are more mothers in the workforce and fathers have to be more involved.  Also, fathers may be more available because of job layoffs or a change in work hours.  This helps reduce the high cost of child care outside the home.

In the series of tables published by the U.S. Census, entitled, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010, other trends should be noted:

  • Family members are the primary source of child care:  30 percent of preschoolers were cared for by their grandparents on a regular basis and 20 percent were cared for by their fathers.  Another 12 percent were cared for by a sibling or other relative.
  • Of the 21 million mothers who were employed in the spring of 2010, one-third reported they paid for child care for at least one of their children.
  • Families in poverty who paid for care in 2010 spent a greater proportion of their monthly income on child care than did families at or above the poverty line (40 percent compared with 7 percent).
  • Ten percent of children ages 5 to 11 and 30 percent of children ages 12-14 regularly care for themselves.

These data remind us to include fathers in our discussion of parents. Grandparents need support also, of a slightly different nature.  Also, our efforts to help children be ready for success in school and life must include outreach to families. There are so many children at home whose caregivers can use more support and ideas for what to do with children and where to take them in their community to help them grow and thrive.

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