Skip to main content
Update this image

Working parents' expectations of employers are shifting in the wake of the pandemic

May 6, 2021

Parents believe employers should do more to support their child care needs according to KinderCare’s 2021 Parent Confidence Report

Portland, Ore. (May 6, 2021) – As working parents across the country are reentering the workforce in the wake of the pandemic, they’re returning with new concerns and expectations of employers when it comes to work-life balance, benefits and their career paths. The 2021 Parent Confidence Report, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of KinderCare Education®, has revealed how COVID-19 has caused a seismic shift in working parents’ expectations of employers.  

“For some time now we’ve seen the evolution of working parents’ attitudes and expectations of their employers to provide stronger child care benefits. The pandemic only accelerated that change,” said Jeff Gerkin, senior vice president for KinderCare Education at Work. “The nature of work is forever changed in the wake of COVID-19 and to support employee retention and engagement, employers must evolve. Our report shows us that now is the time to act. Employers need to change their child care policies and benefits to address the needs of their workers now and in the future.”

Employers like Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Adventist Health and Tyson Foods understand that child care benefits are no longer optional perks for employees – they’re essential to attract and retain top quality employees. Adventist Health has seen the immediate benefits of providing employees with flexible child care options.

“Two things are going to impact people: transportation and child care. Because schools were closed, daycare facilities were closed,” said Nicole D’Uva, associate vice president of Employee Health & LifeWork Strategies at Adventist Health. “You would think that our workforce would be beaten down and tired. And I can tell you that there has never been a lapse of gratitude. So when you talk to these parents who are utilizing KinderCare ... it’s like the cavalry had arrived. People started to take a deep breath and become reinvigorated again.”

Here are some additional findings from the 2021 Parent Confidence Report:

Working Parents Expect Better Child Care Support from Employers

While many employers have stepped up to support their employees during these unprecedented times, the report shows there is more to be done:

  • A majority of parents (76 percent) say being confident in child care allows them to excel at work;
  • Yet nearly half of parents say their employer doesn't understand the needs of parents today during COVID-19;
  • In fact, nearly four of 10 parents (38 percent) give their employers’ child support policy a C- grade or lower;
  • Almost half of working mothers (47 percent) give their employers’ child care policies a C- grade or below compared to 29 percent of working fathers;
  • Six out of 10 parents (62 percent) believe employers or government should offset the cost of child care; and
  • One in four parents are not aware of their employer offering any child care benefits, let alone increasing those benefits as a result of the unique challenges they face while parenting during a pandemic.

Work-Life Balance Takes on New Meaning, Especially for Working Moms

For working parents, especially working moms, the boundaries between home and work have blurred as they’ve navigating pandemic parenting:

  • More than one in five of working moms (22 percent) are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, compared to one in eight working dads (12 percent);
  • Parent-child time continues to be interrupted by work, with nearly half of working parents (46 percent) say they rarely have quality time with my child that is uninterrupted by work; and
  • Pre-pandemic, parents estimated their children interrupted roughly 9.5 hours of their work week. By November 2020 that number increased to 13 hours, nearly two whole working days.

There are real concerns about the pandemic’s impact on careers

Parents, especially working moms, are concerned about the long-term impact that pandemic parenting will have on their careers:

  • One in five working mothers are worried that they will have to quit their jobs in the next six months to take care of their children;
  • Nearly half of working parents (46 percent) feel that their career growth will be on hold as they navigate child care needs;
  • Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) of working dads say they would take a pay cut to work for an organization that provided quality child care; and
  • Almost half of working dads (47 percent) believe they will be overlooked for promotions because their child is at home and is interrupting work.

Full results from KinderCare Learning Centers’ Parent Confidence Report are available here.


About the Parent Confidence Report 2021

Before the pandemic lockdown, KinderCare asked over 2,260 US parents with children ages 12 and under about their parenting confidence, work-life balance, and satisfaction with employers between January 30, 2020 to February 15, 2020 through an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll. Last fall, KinderCare and The Harris Poll surveyed 1,004 US parents with children ages 12 and under to see how the pandemic has impacted them.

About KinderCare Education®

KinderCare Education is America’s largest private provider of early childhood and school-age education and child care. KinderCare supports hardworking families in 40 states and the District of Columbia:

  • In neighborhoods, with KinderCare® Learning Centers that offer early childhood education and child care for children six weeks to 12 years old;
  • At work, through KinderCare Education at Work™, providing customized family benefits for employers across the country, including on-site and near-site early learning centers and back-up care for last-minute child care, and
  • In local schools, with Champions® before and after-school programs.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, KinderCare operates more than 1,500 early learning centers. In 2021, KinderCare earned its fifth Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award – one of only four companies worldwide to win this award for five consecutive years. To learn more, visit KinderCare Education.  

To learn more visit us online at KinderCare, on Facebook or on Instagram. For resources, information, and activity ideas for parents and teachers of young children please visit