RELEASE: Families Who Have Children With Disabilities Face More Obstacles In Accessing Quality, Affordable Child Care

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released new research looking at the disproportionate burden families who have children with disabilities face in finding quality, affordable child care. The report features analysis of the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation survey; a combined multiyear sample of the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH); and interviews with parents of children with disabilities. Key findings from the analysis include:

  • Survey data show that a larger proportion of parents with disabled children, 34 percent, experienced at least some difficulty finding care compared with 25 percent among parents with nondisabled children.
  • Survey data show that a larger proportion of parents with disabled children, 34 percent, were unable to find child care compared with 28 percent among parents with nondisabled children.
  • Parents of children with disabilities were 50 percent more likely than parents of typically developing children to report a lack of available slots as their main difficulty in finding care—12 percent vs. 8 percent, respectively, according to survey data.
  • Survey data show that children with disabilities are significantly more likely to receive care from multiple sources than nondisabled children—22 percent vs 13 percent, respectively.
  • Survey data show that compared with parents of nondisabled children, parents of children with disabilities were three times more likely to experience career disruptions—including leaving their job, not taking a job, or making significant changes to their job—because of problems with child care.
  • In interviews, parents routinely cited illegal forms of discrimination as a barrier to accessing child care. Concerns about children’s health or safety in group settings, scheduling constraints, program costs, and frustration with care options are in part why nearly all parents interviewed said that at least one parent devoted significant time to child care.

The report also includes a series of policy recommendations, including:

  • Passing the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would improve child care accessibility and affordability as well as make systemic reforms to improve care for children with disabilities.
  • Supporting all children’s right to education and developmental supports by adequately funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and fully enforcing civil rights protections.
  • Bolstering parent caregiving through improved work-family supports, including paid family and medical leave, paid sick time, and predictable and flexible scheduling.

“Finding quality, affordable, and reliable child care in America is a challenge for many families, but this research shows that it is an even greater burden for families who have children with disabilities,” said Cristina Novoa, senior policy analyst for CAP’s Early Childhood Policy team. “In order to promote children’s learning and healthy development and enable more parents to pursue opportunities that allow their families to thrive, policymakers should increase investments in child care and reform programs to ensure they are accessible for all.”

Please click here to read “The Child Care Crisis Disproportionately Affects Children With Disabilities” by Cristina Novoa.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202.741.6292.