New research from the University of New Hampshire finds that many local families are depending on more than one child care provider.
Over a third of New England households with children under five use more than one form of child care, according to the report, which looked at information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau between January to May 2023.
“There is often a level of mismatch for families between the care that they can access and the care that they wish they could access,” said Jess Carson, who authored the analysis and directs the University of New Hampshire Carsey School’s Center for Social Policy in Practice. “We're still very much learning what that looks like and how best to alleviate those mismatches for families, especially in New Hampshire and in New England.”
According to Carson’s research, 70% of New England households with young children used at least one form of child care. This includes child care centers, babysitters, or relatives looking after kids. About one-quarter of New England households relied solely on a relative to take care of their child.
Carson said this research shows there’s a diversity in how parents are patching together child care — across families, or even within the same family, from one day to the next.
“I think what it looks like on the ground really depends on the family, but that recognition that there is such a mixture of what families need from their child care arrangement is the piece that's most important,” she said.
In the coming weeks, Carson said she hopes to share more research looking at how income affects child care choices.
This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by New Hampshire Public Radio.