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Contact:  Autumn Banks
Public Information Office
301-763-3030/763-3762 (fax)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summertime Child Care Arrangements Vary, Census Bureau Reports

     Children are less likely to have regular child care arrangements during the school break in the summer — about 55 percent of preschoolers and 58 percent of grade-schoolers were not in a regular child care placement during the summer of 2006. According to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, those children who do have regular arrangements typically spend more hours in child care during the summer than the rest of the year.

     Relatives continued to play an important role in child care during the summer with half of preschoolers and nearly half of all grade-schoolers of employed mothers receiving child care from relatives. These findings are in a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau based on the 2005-2006 Survey of Income and Program Participation.

     The report, Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2005/Summer 2006 [PDF], provides an analysis of data released in February 2008. These data show the number and characteristics of children in different types of child care arrangements, the differences between child care for preschoolers and older children and the extent of self-care. Information is also provided about the cost of child care arrangements and the number of fathers providing care for their children. Additionally, the report examines new topics such as summer child care arrangements for both preschoolers and grade-schoolers.

     “The most recent data provide us with a unique opportunity to examine child care arrangements during summer months and shed light on how families manage the gap between the school year and summer,” said Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer with the Census Bureau.

     Several factors can explain the difference between child care in the summer and the rest of the year. For example, school itself is an important source of child care; children are not typically enrolled in school during the summer. Other factors include the closing of child care facilities, the irregularity of work schedules and the occurrence of vacations.

     The amount of time spent in organized care for grade-schoolers increased from three hours per week in spring 2005 to 13 hours per week in summer 2006.

     Overall, employed mothers were more likely to have regular child care arrangements than nonemployed mothers. In summer 2006, of the 23.7 million grade school-age children whose mothers were employed, 52 percent were in a regular arrangement, compared with 20 percent of the 12.3 million grade school-age children of nonemployed mothers.

     Other highlights:

  • In spring 2005, 23 percent of preschoolers were regularly cared for by a grandparent and 16 percent were cared for by their father.
  • Self-care was much more prevalent among middle school-age children than among those in elementary school: 6 percent of children ages 5 to 11, and 37 percent of ages 12 to 14, regularly cared for themselves. Among all children, the average time spent in self-care was six hours per week.
  • Families with an employed mother and children younger than age 15 paid an average of $6,000 a year for child care, an increase of more than $1,000 from a generation ago.
  • Families in poverty who paid for child care in 2005 spent a greater portion of their monthly income on child care than did families at or above the poverty level (29 percent compared with 7 percent).
  • The percent of the family monthly income spent on child care stayed relatively constant between 1997 and 2005, at around 7 percent.
These data were collected from February 2005 through May 2005 and June through September 2006 in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to <>.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014