Who’s minding the young children?
During the 2021 Census, we counted more than 2.2 million children five years of age or younger. A recent survey found that just over half (52%) of these children were in licensed or unlicensed child care in early 2022, unchanged from late 2020, but down from three in five (60%) in 2019, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that the types of care children are receiving has also changed since the onset of the pandemic and that finding affordable care remains a concern for many parents.
More parents staying at home with their babies during the first year
Babies (less than one year old) were less likely to be enrolled in some type of child care in early 2022 compared with late 2020 (14% versus 20%) and the least likely to be in child care overall.
Just over three-fifths (62%) of toddlers (one- to three-year-olds) were in some form of child care in early 2022, unchanged from 2020. In contrast, four- and five-year-old children who did not attend school were more likely to be in child care in early 2022 compared with late 2020 (72% versus 63%), while fewer four- and five-year-olds who attended school were in child care (47% versus 54%).
Far fewer family child care homes since the onset of the pandemic
The share of Canadian children under the age of six in daycare centres, preschools and centres de la petite enfance rose from 26% in late 2020 to 31% in early 2022, returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Conversely, the share of children in family child care home arrangements fell from 12% pre-pandemic, to 10% in late 2020, and then to 8% in early 2022. According to the Labour Force Survey, the number of employees working in family child care homes fell from 34,400 in January 2019 to 20,500 in January 2022.
Age also played a key role in the type of child care arrangement used in early 2022. Among infants under one year old in child care, over half were cared for by a relative.
Many parents using child care during the pandemic report difficulties finding child care
Approximately four in ten parents who were using child care in early 2022 reported having had difficulty finding child care. Parents of children younger than one were the most likely to report difficulties finding child care (47%), while those with children aged four or five attending school were the least likely (35%).
Among parents using child care who reported having difficulties finding it, 57% reported difficulty finding care in their community, while 46% had difficulty finding affordable care. Almost one-quarter of parents said they had difficulty finding care specifically due to the pandemic.
For parents who were not using child care and who reported having difficulty finding it, 61% said the difficulty was finding affordable care, while 35% had difficulty finding care specifically due to the pandemic, down from 43% in late 2020.
Difficulties finding child care impact parents' ability to work
Difficulty finding child care can result in negative consequences for parents, including their ability to work.
For parents using child care who reported having difficulties finding it, the most common consequences included changing their work or study schedule (38%), working fewer hours (37%) or paying more than they wanted to (33%).
Among parents who had difficulties finding child care and whose children were not using it at the time that the survey was conducted, 42% had postponed their return to work.
One-fifth of parents not using child care feel that it is not safe during the pandemic
In early 2022, one-fifth (20%) of parents who were not using any child care said they did not feel it was safe during the pandemic, down from 28% of parents recorded in late 2020.
Just over one in ten parents or guardians in Quebec who were not using child care felt it was unsafe to do so during the pandemic, compared with just over two in ten in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
Almost one-quarter (23%) of parents who were not using child care in early 2022 said that they had used it previously; although, precisely when they had used child care, as well as the type of care used, was not asked.
For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; email@example.com) or Media Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org).