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Nearly Half of Preschoolers Receive Child Care from Relatives


Relatives regularly provide child care to almost half of the more than 19 million preschoolers, according to tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Fathers and grandparents were the primary relative child care providers.

The series of tables, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2005, showed that among the 11.3 million children younger than 5 whose mothers were employed, 30 percent were cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent during their mother’s working hours. A slightly greater percentage spent time in an organized care facility, such as a day care center, nursery or preschool. Meanwhile, 25 percent received care from their fathers, 3 percent from siblings and 8 percent from other relatives when mothers went to work.

The tables provide data on child care arrangements of preschoolers and grade-schoolers by various demographic characteristics of the employed mother. They also profile children who care for themselves on a regular basis and examine the size of weekly child care payments made by selected characteristics of the family.

Other highlights:

* Preschoolers with employed black and Hispanic mothers were more likely to be cared for by their grandparents than their fathers. Among preschoolers of employed non-Hispanic white mothers, about the same percentage were cared for by their fathers and their grandparents (29 percent).
* Preschoolers whose mothers worked a night or evening shift were more likely to have their father as a child care provider than those whose mothers worked day shifts (39 percent and 18 percent, respectively).
* Eighty-nine percent of children younger than 5 with employed mothers were in a regular child care arrangement, compared with 63 percent of their grade school-age counterparts.
* Families with an employed mother and children younger than 15 paid an average of $107 per week for child care in 2005, up from $73 in 1985.
* Families with an employed mother and a child younger than 5 paid more, on average, per week for child care than those whose children were each 5 and older ($129 compared with $97).
* Families in poverty who paid for child care in 2005 spent a greater proportion of their monthly income on child care than did families at or above the poverty level (29 percent compared with 6 percent).
* Among all children, self-care was much more prevalent among middle school-age children than among those in elementary schools: 6 percent of ages 5 to 11 and 33 percent of ages 12 to 14 regularly cared for themselves.

These data were collected from February 2005 through May 2005 in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to


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