New Englanders’ Use of Child Care Varies by Income, Even Among Working Households

Key Findings

image of icon showing adult and two children
Child care use in New England varies by income: among households with a child under age five, higher-income households more often report using child care than their lower-income counterparts, regardless of employment status.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau collected between January and May 2023 show that access to child care remains uneven. Among New England households with a child under age five, 71.1 percent had used at least some child care, paid or unpaid, in the past seven days. However, use varied with income: 88.1 percent of households with young children and incomes over $200,000 used child care, compared with 57.2 percent of those with incomes under $50,000 (Figure 1). Although low-income households where the survey respondent is employed more often used child care than low-income households overall, employment status does not fully close the income gap in use. That is, lower-income working households are 18.6 percentage points less likely to use care than their higher-income counterparts. These findings suggest that in low-income New England households, access to early care opportunities—as a learning environment for kids and a work support for parents—is falling short.

Figure 1. Percent of New England Households With a Child Under Age Five Who Used Child Care in the Past Seven Days
A bar chart with dark and light green bars showing percent child care use in New England

Note: Estimates are calculated using household-level replicate weights. Child care use includes both paid and unpaid nonparental care, including child care center, relative, non-relative, home-based provider, or a combination of any.  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, Phases 3.7–3.8 (partial), Weeks 53–57. 

About the Author
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Jess Carson is the director of the Center for Social Policy in Practice and a research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.