Primary Child Care Arrangements of U.S. Infants: Patterns of Utilization by Poverty Status, Family Structure, Maternal Work Status, Maternal Work Schedule, and Child Care Assistance

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodJun 15 2009

A substantial proportion of children under the age of 3 are cared for by adults other than their
parents. Recent analyses of the 2005 National Household Education Survey (NHES) indicate
that 42% of infants under the age of 1, 53% of 1-year-olds, and 73% of 2-year-olds had at least
one nonparental care arrangement that occurred on a weekly basis. The large proportion of
infants and toddlers in nonparental care reflects, in part, societal trends of increased maternal
employment among families of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Labor force participation for
mothers with children under the age of 3 increased steadily between 1975 and 2006, from 34%
to 60%. As of 2006, 56% of mothers with children under the age of 3 were actively employed.