Research Report

What Were Parents’ Experiences Searching for Child Care in the Wake of the Pandemic?

Findings from a Survey of Parents in the District of Columbia

The Urban Institute partners with the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to examine the perspectives of child care and early education providers and parents to improve access and quality. This report shares descriptive findings from a 2022 survey of parents in DC where we asked them about their current child care arrangements, their search and selection experiences, and their perceptions of DC’s child care supply.

Of parents surveyed, 44 percent had never searched for child care before their most recent search. Parents were equally concerned about child care cost and the quality of care when searching for child care. Parents who received a child care subsidy voucher had an easier time looking for and finding child care; they spent less time searching for child care, found child care to be more affordable, and reported the process of searching for child care to be less difficult than parents who did not have a subsidy.

Parents varied broadly in how they rated the quality of child care in the District, with the majority (62 percent) rating it either “fair” or “good.” These and other results from the survey suggest that efforts from the District could be targeted toward helping make available care supply more affordable and accessible to meet parents’ scheduling needs and expectations for quality.

Other study products may be found on the DC Child Care Policy Research Partnership project page.