In June 2023, Morning Consult conducted a nationwide survey on behalf of The Century Foundation to assess public opinion around the state of child care. The poll examines public sentiment about the looming child care funding cliff set to arrive September 30, 2023, when the expiration of pandemic-era federal funds could lead to 3.2 million child care slots being lost and the closure of more than 70,000 child care programs. The following is a summary of those results.
View the full polling report here.
- The need for child care is widespread. Two in five parents in the United States pay for child care weekly or more often, and a majority say they would if not for the cost of doing so.
- Child care alternatives are not readily available. Most parents who pay for child care on a regular basis expect it would take them longer than one month to find a suitable replacement if their current provider(s) became unavailable.
- Expiration of federal child care funding provisions defies public opinion. Nearly two-thirds of adults express concern about the upcoming expiration of pandemic-era funding for child care providers, and most believe the federal government should be investing more into child care than it currently does.
- Championing expansion of child care options for families is popular with voters. Seventy percent of adults would be more likely to vote for a candidate for office who supports expanding child care options for families.
The cost and availability of child care options are issues directly impacting tens of millions of parents in the United States.
- 39 percent of U.S. parents (18+) pay for child care weekly or more often.
- 28 percent of parents who do not pay for child care say cost is the main factor inhibiting them.
- 59 percent of parents do or would have a regular child care arrangement, money permitting.
- More than one-third of all adults (36 percent), including most parents, report they or someone they know have experienced challenges finding affordable/high-quality child care in recent years.
- Nearly one-third (29 percent) have missed work due to lack of child care, including almost half of U.S. parents.
- Half of parents (54 percent) who regularly pay for child care expect that it would take them longer than one month to find a suitable child care alternative if current child care suddenly became unavailable.
- One in five parents (21 percent) estimate that it would take them four months or longer to find a replacement.
A strong majority of respondents are concerned about the looming child care cliff and overwhelmingly prefer candidates who champion policies to expand quality, affordable child care options for parents.
- Most U.S. adults believe that the federal government should be investing more in child care programs—more than seven times the share of people who say there should be less investment (51 percent vs. 7 percent).
- More than three in five adults (64 percent) express concern about the upcoming expiration of pandemic-era funding for child care programs, including nearly one-third (31 percent) who are very concerned.
- Responses predict a broad, positive reaction (70 percent) to candidates for office who support expanding affordable child care options for families.
Learn more about the looming child care cliff by reading TCF’s latest report, Child Care Cliff: 3.2 Million Children Likely to Lose Spots with End of Federal Funds, co-authored by Julie Kashen, Laura Valle Gutierrez, Lea Woods and Jessica Milli.
Between June 12–June 15, 2023, Morning Consult conducted a poll on behalf of The Century Foundation among a sample of 2201 U.S. adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of U.S. adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.