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2 out of 3 families struggle to find childcare that meets their standards

For working parents, having confidence that your children are being well cared for during the day can make all the difference. Unfortunately, two in three parents do not have peace of mind with their children’s daycare or preschool, according to a recent study from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

“Our poll demonstrates the challenge of choosing a preschool or childcare setting that meets all of a parent's criteria,” says poll co-director Sarah Clark in a press release. “Safety and health factors are important to parents, but too often, parents aren't sure how to determine if a childcare option is safe and healthy.”

For the report, researchers surveyed 307 parents with a child between the ages of one and five. They found that 62% of the parents struggled to find childcare options that met their standards for safety, cleanliness and affordability.

Among the top deal breakers for parents were:

  • The location seemed “sketchy” (70% of parents said this was an automatic “no”)
  • There were guns on the premises (56%)
  • Non-staff adults were on the premises (48%)
  • Unvaccinated children were allowed to attend (41%)
  • Staff member was a smoker (31%)

The researchers said their findings speak to the importance of parents doing their homework before sending young children to daycare or preschool. Beyond visiting the facilities and talking with staff members, the researchers suggest parents inquire about background checks, security policies, vaccination requirements and more.

“Some health-related characteristics are observable while others, such as how often toys are cleaned, are not as obvious,” Clark says. “The more research parents do ahead of time, the more confident they will feel that their children are in a safe and healthy environment.”

Unfortunately, the confidence many families have in their childcare situations comes at a big expense. According to another report this year from the Center for American Progress, the average American family spends more than 30% of their income on childcare. That finding led the Center for American progress to recommend universal preschool options for 3- and 4-year-olds and childcare options capped at 10% of the parents’ income for everyone else. (Just look at Finland for proof of concept.)

The latest report should put this conversation back on the table—because we all benefit when we know our children are in good hands during the day.

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