The closure of daycare centers across the United States in 2023 has impacted an estimated four million working parents. According to Capterra’s Child Care Survey, daycare closures have left 56% of affected parents contemplating a reduction in working hours, and alarmingly, 26% are considering leaving the workforce altogether in order to care for their children.

Employers could help fill this child care void with suitable child care benefits, but nearly half (45%) of working parents say the benefits at their job are poor. Employees at retail and food service businesses (54%) and large enterprises (47%) report the highest dissatisfaction.

“With millions of parents impacted by daycare closures, it’s time for businesses to step up,” says Brian Westfall, principal HR analyst at Capterra. “Child care benefits were already lacking at a lot of businesses, and if they continue to stay that way, working parents will be forced to work less or leave their jobs.”

The survey identifies two key child care benefits desired by working parents: child care stipends and backup care benefits. Currently, only 15% of working parents receive a child care stipend, yet a staggering 68% wish they had access to one. A similar trend is evident for backup care benefits, desired by 64%, but only available to 15%.

Child care stipends address the escalating costs of daycare, offering financial relief to parents. Unlike dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs), these stipends are fully covered by employers, providing financial relief to parents.

Westfall suggests, “Companies don’t need to offer onsite daycare to make a difference. Everything from child care stipends to backup care days to flexible schedules can give working parents more options with child care to improve their availability.”

With 76% of working parents saying they or their co-parent have had to use PTO for childcare, offering backup care days can ensure that PTO usage is equitable between parents and non-parents. Backup care days are a form of PTO offered only to working parents that they can use to care for their children in an emergency.

The full report offers additional findings, expert analysis, and recommendations to help HR leaders cultivate an environment that celebrates parents and respects their obligations.