Family child care homes are more likely to offer nontraditional hours than child care centers are.However, only a minority do so, and they have fewer spaces available than centers have.

A number of sources have indicated that some two-parent families address this child care shortage by staggering the parents’ work schedules so that each can care for the children while the other parent works.

Single mothers might also trade child care with a working relative or friend with whom they stagger work schedules.

In Chicago, percentages similar to those shown in Table 1 prevail, although with somewhat higher coverage for child care homes (Illinois Action for Children, 2013).

The researchers estimated that the available slots during nontraditional hours in Table 1 would cover barely 10% of the 306,000 Illinois children under age 6 whose parents worked nontraditional schedules.

In an Illinois study using 2004 data, 61% of all single women with household incomes below $24,000 and 56% among all single mothers had nonstandard schedules (Illinois Action for Children, 2007).

For the current study, the authors applied these rates to 2010 Census data on children and families (U. Census as reported in Illinois Action for Children, 2012), estimating that almost 308,000 Illinois children under 6 had a single mother or two parents who worked some evenings, nights, or weekends, with about 152,000 of these children living in a household headed by their single employed mother.

(For current Illinois CCAP rates, see the state’s Payment Rates page.) Although CCAP covers a portion of their child care costs, parents are responsible for a copayment based on their income and family size.

In Illinois in 2012, the copayment averaged 7% of a family’s income and could reach as high as 10%.

For the qualitative study reported here, 50 single mothers in Chicago were interviewed about their experiences finding and using child care during nonstandard hours.