How Common Are Nonstandard Work Schedules Among Low-Income Hispanic Parents of Young Children?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Julia Mendez, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: As the United States has shifted to a 24/7 economy, increasing numbers of U.S. workers work nonstandard hours (i.e., beyond the traditional Monday to Friday daytime schedule).1 Given that early care and education (ECE) options are limited during these hours, nonstandard work schedules may make it difficult for families to secure and maintain regular ECE arrangements.2 These challenges are most acute for parents in the low-wage workforce who have fewer resources and often less control over the amount and timing of their work hours. Nonstandard schedules, especially those with unpredictable hours and limited worker input, also reduce the likelihood that eligible parents will access and maintain child care subsidies—a key public investment strategy for supporting low-income working parents with young children.3 Recognition of the potential mismatch between low-income parents’ employment demands and the parameters of ECE programs intended to serve them has prompted new policy efforts to expand access to ECE for those with nonstandard work schedules. For example, the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) includes a provision encouraging states to increase the supply and quality of care services available during nontraditional hours.However, significant gaps persist in what is known about low-income Hispanic parents’ work lives and how they relate to ECE access and utilization. Hispanic parents and immigrant workers are over- represented in the low-wage workforce, where nonstandard schedules are commonplace,4 but recent national data indicate that most ECE providers who serve a high proportion of Hispanic children do not offer full-time or nonstandard hours.5 The limited availability of ECE options during nonstandard hours, especially for developmentally oriented programs like public pre-K and Head Start, raises important questions about how low-income Hispanic parents’ work schedules influence their ability to take advantage of the publicly funded early education opportunities targeted toward their children.This brief draws on survey and retrospective calendar data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) to describe the work schedules of low-income Hispanic parents with young children from birth to age 5 (not yet in kindergarten), and provide comparison data for their non-Hispanic white and black counterparts.a We calculate the percentages of low-income Hispanic children with parents working standard weekday, early morning, evening, overnight, and/or weekend hours. We also examine the percentage of children whose parents have short advance notice (one week or less) of their work hours, which has been shown to complicate parents’ efforts to arrange child care and maintain family routines.6Importantly, we report estimates separately for children in single- and two-parent households, as families’ ECE needs, preferences, and options vary depending on the number of parents in the home.b We additionally look at differences among Hispanic children by household nativity status.

Additional Information

National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families. Brief 2017-50
Language: English
Date: 2017
Hispanic parents, Hispanic children, Low-income families, Work schedules, Child care, Early care education

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