FDU Poll finds NJ working parents face child care challenges amid pandemic

Steve Barnett

Rich Higginson

Poll: New Jersey Working Parents Continue to Face Child Care Challenges Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Madison, New Jersey, April 16, 2021 – Parents and guardians of children between newborn to three years old are looking primarily to relatives to provide child care support. According to a new online statewide survey conducted by The Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll, with support from The Nicholson Foundation, 7 in 10 (70%) indicate their child is in some form of child care. This is in line with pre-pandemic national trends. The current study finds almost half (45%) indicate care is provided by relatives; 30 percent have their child in a child care center/daycare or preschool and 10 percent say a non-relative is providing the care.  Single-parent households are more likely than dual-parent households to look to relatives to provide such care (52% vs. 43%). Three in ten (29%) indicate their child is not currently in any type of child care.

Of those who indicated their child’s care was provided by relatives, grandparents (47%) were cited as the individuals who provide care most often. A spouse or partner who is not the child’s biological parent was the second most frequently mentioned (31%), followed by an aunt or uncle (11%). Black respondents (28%) were less likely than Whites (49%) or Hispanics (48%) to cite grandparents as the primary caregiver.  Fewer Whites (8%) than Blacks (22%) or Hispanics (20%) mentioned the primary caregiver was an aunt or uncle. 

“New Jersey families with children under age three rely on a mix of relative, non-relative home care, and center-based care, often using more than one type of child care to meet their needs,” said Dr. Allison Friedman-Krauss, Director of ITC@NIEER.

Forty-two percent say the relative is receiving payments for their services. Seventy-nine percent say the non-relative is paid for providing child care, and 94 percent say the child care/daycare center or preschool receives payments.

Regardless of the type of child care setting, the mean number of days and hours per week the child is in a child care environment is similar.


Average Days per Week

Average Hours per Week




Care Center






Across all environments, children between the ages of 0-12 months tend to be in care fewer hours per week than their older cohorts.

Of those who had a child in a child care environment pre-pandemic, 41 percent indicate it has been somewhat or much more difficult to presently find quality child care within their budget. The fear of Covid-19 (53%) is the primary reason cited for it being more difficult to find quality care. Increased costs (18%) is a distant second reason for the difficulty.

For those who have currently decided against putting their child in any child care environment, a plurality (43%) say it is because they are a stay-at-home parent. Parents continue to worry about safety, with more than a third (39%) of those who chose not to use child care indicating they are concerned about COVID-19 exposure. Cost is an influencing factor for 22 percent of parents.

Dr. Friedman-Krauss adds, “Child care use by families of infants and toddlers is about 80% of what it was before the pandemic; as vaccination rates increase and the pandemic recedes, we expect the demand for infant/toddler care to return to or even exceed pre-pandemic levels.”


This study was funded by The Nicholson Foundation and conducted by the FDU Poll. The online survey was designed to provide estimates of adults in New Jersey with children age 3 years and younger. The survey was conducted February 5-21, 2021 with 781 adults residing in New Jersey.

This survey used a nonprobability sample source. Market Knowledge Online provided the sample, and individuals included are those who responded to invitations to participate in the survey. The Market Knowledge Online sample was selected based on quotas related to living in New Jersey with children three years old or younger in the household. Surveys were conducted in English and via the web only. For panel recruitment, Market Knowledge Online uses invitations of all types including email invitations, phone alerts, banners, and messaging on panel community sites to include people with a diversity of motivations to take part in research.

Because nonprobability panels do not start with a frame where there is a known probability of selection, standard measures of sampling error and response rates cannot be calculated.

Question wording and order

Approximately how old, in months is this child/are these children?

                                    0-6 Months    7 to 12 months    13 to 24 months    25 to 36 months

            Child 1

            Child 2

            Child 3

            Child 4

Is there a second parent or guardian in your household?



Other than child care provided by a parent or legal guardian, is this child receiving care on a regular basis (at least once a week) from any of the following? (Check all that apply).

            A relative (e.g., grandparent, brother or sister, aunt/uncle)

            A daycare or child care center, or preschool

            A non-relative (not including daycare or preschool)

            No, None of the above

And which of these family members provides care for your child most often? 

Spouse/Partner (Not the child’s other parent or guardian)


Aunt of uncle

Brother or sister

Other relative


How many days each week does this child receive care from this relative?

1          2          3          4          5          6          7


How many hours each week does this child receive care from this relative?

______ Hours per Week


Is there any charge or fee for the care this child receives from this relative, paid either by you or some other person or agency?



Not Sure


Thinking about the daycare center, preschool, or early childhood program your child attends the most, how many days does your child go to this program in a typical week??

1          2          3          4          5          6          7


And how many hours each week does your child go to this program??

______ Hours per Week


Is this program paid for providing care for your child, whether it is paid by you or not?



Not Sure


How many days does your child receive care from this non-relative in a typical week?

1          2          3          4          5          6          7


How many hours each week does your child receive care from this person? 

______ Hours per Week


Is this person paid for providing care for your child, whether it is paid by you or not?



Not Sure


Was this child in any type of child care prior to the COVID pandemic?




Why is your child currently not in any type of childcare?   (Check all that apply.) 

One or more parents are currently unemployed

The cost

My spouse/partner cares for them

My child care provider has closed

My childcare provider is no longer accepting infants my child’s age

Care quality does not meet my requirements

I am worried about COVID-19 exposure or safety requirements

Made other arrangements for now

I am a stay-at-home parent

Other (Specify) _________________


Has it been easier or more difficult to find quality child care for your child within your budget since the COVID pandemic started? 

Much easier

Somewhat easier

Somewhat more difficult

Much more difficult

Not applicable


What is the primary reason for the difficulty in finding care? 

Cost has increased


Quality of Care

Lack of open slots for a new child

Don’t trust care centers due to COVID

Need a program for a special needs child


What is your ethnicity?

White (Caucasian)

Black/African American


Native American

Hispanic or Latino





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