Indicator List for Parenting

Father and child

Child Trends investigates family relationships that influence a child’s development from birth through the transition to adulthood. We look at all family and household structures from children living with two parents, single parents, extended family members, and with foster and adoptive parents. We also study the role of fathers in children’s development and ways to improve father engagement among diverse groups of fathers. We offer expertise in quantitative and qualitative research, program evaluation, policy design, and technical assistance.

Indicator List for Parenting


Attitudes Toward Spanking

In 2012, according to a nationally representative survey, 77 percent of men, and 65 percent of women 18 to 65 years old agreed that a child sometimes needs a “good hard spanking.” This proportion has declined modestly since 1986 among women, while approval among males, after declining into the early 1990s, remained steady since then.


Child Care

Among children ages 0-4 whose mothers were employed, 24 percent were primarily cared for by a parent during the hours their mother was working in 2011.


Child Maltreatment

The rate of substantiated child maltreatment, as of 2012, has shown modest declines in the past five years, and is now at a level lower than at any time since 1990. The rates of physical and sexual abuse have declined the most, and rates of neglect have declined the least.


Family Meals

Children in poorer families, and those whose parents had less education, are more likely to have meals together with their families than are children with wealthier or more educated parents.


Foster Care

In 2012, 400,000 children were in foster care, a 29 percent decline from the 1999 peak of 567,000, and a number lower than that seen in any of the past 25 years.


Immigrant Children

The population of first- and second-generation immigrant children in the United States grew by 51 percent between 1995 and 2014, to 18.7 million, or one-quarter of all U.S. children.


Late or No Prenatal Care

Although there were substantial declines on this measure in the 1990s for all races, black, Hispanic, and Native American mothers are more than twice as likely as white mothers to receive either late or no prenatal care.