Child care is critical for families that have a working parent, especially in single parent homes. However, not all parents work during the day. A sizeable portion of low-income families work nonstandard hours. These hours are usually unavailable in daycares so they need to rely on family members, seek reimbursement for childcare or, unfortunately, do not work. According to research by Maria Enchautegui and colleagues at the Urban Institute, almost one-third of working mothers in poverty work a nonstandard schedule. Other research shows that more child care assistance would benefit low-income families by increasing maternal employment and reducing economic hardship. A refundable child care tax credit would be the most effective way to target poor working families with nonstandard hours.
For the working poor (including many nonstandard hour workers) who find that day care centers don't meet their needs, expanding and making the child and dependent care tax credit refundable, for example, may be the best solution.