Parents with Nontraditional Work Schedules in the District of Columbia

Understanding the child care needs of parents working nontraditional hour (NTH) schedule has become a growing concern for policymakers trying to reduce barriers to accessible child care. Families working these schedules can face extra challenges finding child care, and the care arrangements they use are less often supported by public funds. Using data from the 2014–18 American Community Survey and the 2016 Survey of Program Participation, we find that more than a third of District of Columbia children younger than 6 with working parents had parents that worked NTH schedules. The most common hours these parents worked were evenings and weekends, with fewer working during the early morning or overnight. Although parents of all types and income levels work NTH schedules, these schedules are much more common among families that have faced structural barriers to employment, education, and good wages. This is true especially for families with low incomes, Black and Latino families, parents with lower levels of education, and single-parent families. The child care crisis brought on by the pandemic and other challenges of COVID-19 have amplified these issues as well as the importance of the essential workforce and the impact of race on families’ risks and opportunities.