Impacts on Working Parents

During the pandemic, the way we work changed dramatically, forcing working parents to adapt to a new reality in order to balance work and childcare.

San Diego parents report the following shifts:2


had to shift their regular work schedule to care for children


shifted to working from home


are currently looking or planning to look for a new job in the next six months

Even prior to the pandemic, the high cost of care and lack of available options presented parents with serious challenges.


The annual cost of care for one infant in a licensed childcare center in San Diego costs over $19,000.4

Many parents are forced to make a difficult decision — stay engaged in the workforce or care for their children themselves.

“Basically my wife would have been working full time just to pay for the childcare.”

— Dad from Chula Vista3

Finding care that meets their family’s needs represents a challenge for the majority of working parents with children ages 6 and under in San Diego.2

76% said finding affordable childcare in their area is an issue

70% had difficulty finding childcare that meets their expectations

68% said that finding childcare for a full working day is an issue

In addition to a lack of access to quality, affordable full-day childcare, many parents indicated additional challenges related to obtaining support for children.2


said that having healthy food options for their children was a challenge


noted difficulty accessing adequate healthcare for their children


indicated challenges with having support with parenting from a partner, friend, or family member

While COVID-19 has had broad-reaching effects, San Diegans furthest from opportunity often experienced outsized pandemic-related challenges.


of parents who reported being very uneasy about their financial outlook confirmed a challenge in finding childcare.2

In San Diego, those most likely to have experienced job loss, lost opportunities at work, and financial uncertainty during the pandemic are:

  • Lower-income workers
  • Working parents without college degrees
  • Single parents/sole decision-makers
  • Women, and especially women of color
Lower-income workers

In the San Diego region, 65% of low-income jobs are held by people of color, and 56% are held by women. These workers saw the greatest unemployment rates during the pandemic.5

College Degree Status

Many working parents in San Diego experienced a shift in their employment status. A higher likelihood of unemployment was reported by those without a college degree.

Sole decision-makers

Parents who identify as sole decision-makers for their children were more likely to experience negative work-related impacts.


In San Diego, women have disengaged from the workforce due to childcare-related challenges at greater rates than their male counterparts.

Women were more likely than men to have to quit their job, reduce their hours, or make the decision not to look for a job due to a lack of childcare.2

Women of color were the most likely to have had to quit their job, reduce their hours or make the decision not to look for a job due to a lack of childcare.2

Of those surveyed, women were most likely to report challenges with the following issues:2

59% had a hard time getting professional help to support children with stressful or difficult situations

54% struggled with knowing how to access nonprofit or government support for families

56% said that getting support with parenting from a partner, friend, or family member was a challenge


of women had to shift their work schedules to care for children, compared to 30% of men.2

“I had to quit my job. I couldn't afford to pay for daycare. I'm a single mother...I'll struggle in silence.”

— Mom from San Diego3