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Contact:  Vicki Glasier
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301-763-3030/3762 (fax)


One-Third of Fathers with Working Wives Regularly Care for Their Children, Census Bureau Reports

     Among fathers with a wife in the workforce, 32 percent were a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26 percent in 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. Among these fathers with preschool-age children, one in five fathers was the primary caregiver, meaning their child spent more time in their care than any other type of arrangement.

     The series of tables titled Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010 showed that in a typical week, 12.2 million (61 percent) of the 20 million children under age 5 were in some type of regular child care arrangement.

     As married women have increasingly moved into the labor force, fathers have become more available for child care while their wives are working.

     “A recession may force families to adjust their child care arrangements,” said Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer at the Census Bureau. “It can trigger unemployment or changes in work hours, thus increasing the availability of fathers to provide child care. It also can reduce available income to pay for child care outside of the home.”

     The tables provide statistics on child care arrangements of preschoolers and grade-schoolers by various demographic characteristics of the employed and nonemployed mothers. They also examine the characteristics of children who care for themselves on a regular basis as well as how the cost of weekly child care varies based on selected family characteristics.

    Other highlights:

  • In households with working moms, family members continue to serve as an important source of child care for preschoolers. In spring of 2010, 30 percent of preschoolers were regularly cared for by their grandparents, 29 percent were cared for by their fathers, and 12 percent received care from a sibling or other relative.
  • Preschoolers with employed black and Hispanic mothers were more likely to be cared for by their grandparents than their fathers. Twenty-nine percent of black preschoolers were cared for by their grandparents, while a quarter (22 percent) were cared for by their fathers. A third of Hispanic preschoolers were regularly taken care of by their grandparent, compared with 29 percent who received care from their fathers.
  • Among preschoolers of employed non-Hispanic white mothers, 30 percent were cared for by their fathers and 29 percent were cared for by their grandparents.
  • 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 with an employed mother and children younger than 15 paid an average of $138 per week for child care in 2010, up from $81 in 1985 (in constant 2010 dollars), the first year that these data were collected.
  • Mothers with children under age 5 were more likely to make child care payments than mothers who only had children between the ages of 5 and 14 (47 percent and 23 percent, respectively).
  • 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).
  • Among all children, self-care was much more prevalent among middle school-age children than among those in elementary schools: 10 percent of ages 5 to 11 and 30 percent of ages 12 to 14 regularly cared for themselves.

     This report is one of several related to children and families to have been released recently or that will be released soon by the Census Bureau, including Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009; Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008; and Comparing Program Participation of TANF and non-TANF Families Before and During a Time of Recession.

These data were collected 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 <http://www.sipp.census.gov/sipp/source.html>.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: May 19, 2016