Finding childcare is a struggle that many families face. When one or both parents work, childcare is a necessity. But it’s incredibly expensive. In addition to the cost, many parents struggle to find childcare that meets their standards. When you’re leaving your kids with someone else, you want to make sure they’re safe and being adequately cared for. A new study suggests that families are having a hard time finding childcare that meet their standards, and that’s a big problem for working parents.

As many as 2/3 of families struggle with finding childcare that meet their standards.

The study from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health says that parents aren’t sure how determine if a particular childcare facility or worker meets their standards for health and safety. Cost tops the list of concerns when finding a childcare facility or provider. But beyond that, parents have standards for cleanliness and safety. But while it’s fairly easy to find out how much a particular facility costs, getting details about policies and employees isn’t as clear-cut. The study polled 307 parents with at least one child between the ages of one and five.

62% of respondents struggled to find childcare that met their standards and criteria.

Respondents to the poll shared their deal breakers. 70% said that if a daycare was in a “sketchy” area, it was an automatic no. 56% said guns on the premises meant a hard pass (which, ONLY 56%?? What the hell kind of daycare keeps guns around?). 48% passed on facilities that allowed non-staff adults on the premises. 41% said that allowing unvaccinated children to attend was a no-go for them. And 31% said that they’d pass on a facility if one of the employees was a smoker.

So beyond visiting the facility and checking for reviews online, what can parents do to help them make a decision?

Researchers say that doing your homework is of the utmost importance. Always visit a potential daycare or preschool, and meet as much of the staff as possible. Ask about safety policies, vaccination policies, and background checks. Poll co-director Sarah Clark says, “Some health-related characteristics are observable while others, such as how often toys are cleaned, are not as obvious. The more research parents do ahead of time, the more confident they will feel that their children are in a safe and healthy environment.”

A report from the Center for American Progress says that American parents spend 30% of their income on childcare, on average. That’s … sobering. But if you’re going to be shelling out a third of your income, you deserve to have 100% confidence in where your children are spending their time.

(Image: iStock / Nadezhda1906)