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Overnight, Weekend Child Care: Rare Gems Workers Need

Second-, third- and weekend-shift employees need child care just as acutely as other working parents, but “off-hours” care services are a rarity, which means many people simply can’t take these jobs, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer and NAM research.

What’s happening: “Before the stroke of 6 p.m., the vast majority of parents everywhere are expected to promptly reclaim their kids in hectic, daily reunions. Just 8% of U.S. child-care centers and 33% of home-based care facilities are open after 7 p.m. or on weekends, according to Child Care Aware of America, a research and advocacy organization in Arlington, Va.”

  • One Pennsylvania nonprofit, Along the Way, provides free in-home overnight and weekend child-care services to qualifying low-income single mothers, making it possible for many of them to return or begin to work.
  • The program, which according to the National Child Care Association appears to be the only one of its kind in the nation, is so popular there’s a waiting list of 30 families. 

Why it matters: A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, mothers were 2 percentage points more likely than fathers to leave the workforce because of child care, according to an October 2021 study by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

  • Approximately 30%—or about 10 million—U.S. households are headed by single parents of children under the age of 18, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some 80% of these parents are mothers.

What’s next: “Along the Way is planning employer-subsidized overnight programs that will offer child care to workers who would pay on a sliding scale,” according to the Inquirer. “The nonprofit is collaborating with a Philadelphia food-processing plant, as well as two resorts in Northeast Pennsylvania.”

What manufacturers can do: Taking a page from the nonprofit’s playbook by seeking ways to help provide trusted off-hours child care would likely pay dividends. 

  • “Attracting and retaining employees who are also parents is an important part of the solution to our workforce problem,” said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee. “For these workers, second- and third-shift positions are a challenge. Helping to fill off-hours child-care needs could go a long way in filling jobs.”
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