October 2, 2020 | Number of The Day
Percentage of parents of children under three in NJ who’ve quit jobs to handle child care

Among the many ways the coronavirus pandemic has affected day-to-day life in New Jersey is by pushing many parents of young children out of the workforce. That’s underlined in a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll focused on parents of children under three years old. The statewide poll, published Wednesday, found nearly 40% of those parents said it was more difficult to find affordable child care since the pandemic began in March. And 38% say costs have increased for them since the state reopened child care on June 15. More Hispanic (53%) and Black (41%) families report increased child care costs compared to non-Hispanic white families (31%).

So severe have been the repercussions that more than one in 10 (14%) of parents of young children indicated they quit their jobs to help manage child care. But that outcome has fallen to far more women than men (19% versus 3%). Seventeen percent said they were forced to reduce their work hours while 8% took an unpaid leave of absence.

“Without adequate child care, everything I’ve worked for will crumble,” said Newark resident Jheryn Kenney, who recently returned to work after deciding to send her toddler and her 6-year-old child to child care/school with in-person learning.

“My husband and I are concerned about the risk of exposure to the virus, but we’re hoping for the best. It was the best option because more than half my income is commission-based, so by not working, I’m compromising my ability to financially contribute to our family’s needs,” Kenney said. “I still have not returned fully, as hours are limited.”

The poll surveyed more than 900 parents of infants and toddlers in August 2020 with support from The Nicholson Foundation.