Burden of U.S. Childcare during COVID-19

Schools provide essential childcare for parents who work at no cost. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shut down for in-person learning, many families lost free childcare, which many depended on to be able to work. As a result, many parents, primarily mothers, left the workforce, creating a gendered departure from traditional working conditions. During the immediate onset of the pandemic, unemployment rates for women jumped drastically- from 4.4% in March 2020 to 16.5% in April 2020. According to McKinsey and Oxford economics, 29% of women with children under 10 were considering leaving the workforce during 2020 compared to only 13% of men. The same study also predicted that it would take until 2024 for women's employment in the U.S. to return to pre-pandemic levels. Men's level of employment will return to pre-pandemic level one year earlier in 2023.

Parent involvement is an important factor for student achievement in both traditional and online school settings. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic parents have often struggled with increased responsibilities and uncertainties in their student's education. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Qualitative Research, the biggest concern for parents navigating virtual learning with their children was balancing responsibilities to address the needs of their student learners while also keeping up with their job. Other parent concerns were centered around accessibility (both in regards to technology and students with disabilities), lack of student motivation, and learning outcomes. Specific challenges that affected parent's abilities to be involved in virtual learning are economic resources and lack of proper infrastructures, like technology and internet access, and subsequently the knowledge to use technological resources. The degree that these challenges were felt by parents depended on several factors, such as the age of children, number of children, and family socioeconomic status.