State of Childcare Transportation 2021

We surveyed 1,257 parents, foster parents and other primary caregivers for our State of Childcare Transportation Report 2021.

Detailing time spent on the road getting children to school and various activities, effects on career and daily life, and family stress, the State of Childcare Transportation 2021 report reveals that many parents and caregivers struggle with balancing careers and getting their children to schools and activities.

From spending hours behind the wheel (some more than 10 hours per week!) to 80% of respondents’ workdays being interrupted to nearly 16% of respondents feeling like their jobs are put at risk, this report shows how the varied transportation needs of families today are affecting parents and caregivers.


5 Takeaways From the 2021 Childcare Transportation Report

Don’t have time to read the full report? Check out these 5 takeaways.

Recently, we published the HopSkipDrive 2021 State of Childcare Transportation report. The purpose of this survey was pretty simple: to talk to parents, foster parents, and other primary caregivers about the challenges of getting their kids everywhere—and especially school. 

In this article, we’ll highlight five significant takeaways from the study, including how much time parents are spending on the road—and how all those hours might be affecting their careers.

1. Driving their kids feels like a part-time job.

Being a parent is hard work—and shuttling kids from school to extracurriculars to appointments and friends’ houses can feel like a part-time job for many parents. 

Almost 80% of parents said they were the primary transportation provider in their house. And while nearly half of parents said they coordinated duties with their partners, about one-quarter of parents said they handled transportation logistics all by themselves.

And considering how busy many kids are these days, the time (and the complicated logistics) add up. For example, almost three-fourths of parents said their children play sports. And many other children play instruments, attend after-school programs, or need to get to medical appointments or therapy.

Regardless of where kids go and what they do, one thing’s for sure: kids were pretty busy before COVID-19, and they’re going to get busy again soon. 

“Getting my kids to and from school has been the most stressful part of parenting for me, hands down,” said one parent.

Another parent had to restrict extracurriculars just to find some peace: “We put limits on the number of activities kids can do for our sanity.”

2. Parents are spending a ton of time on the road.

Most caregivers know that a one-hour basketball practice or therapy session is really a lot longer. There’s time spent getting kids ready, fetching them from school, getting them to the right place, waiting for them to finish, and then shuttling them back home. A little appointment or activity can quickly turn into the whole afternoon—or more. 

Nearly forty percent of respondents spend two to four hours per week, 19% spend five to nine hours a week and 11% spend over ten hours per week on the road! 

Many parents are making significant changes to get their children where they want to be.

“I moved to a different part of Los Angeles so that my kids were closer to their schools and could walk to friends’ houses,” said one parent.

3. All this driving interrupts workdays.

Driving kids around has always been a challenge, but hybrid learning and half-days—all thanks to COVID-19—have wreaked havoc on parents’ somewhat predictable schedules. Now more than ever, parents’ days are interrupted by unusual start times, sporadic bus service, or concern over carpooling and other not-socially-distant ways of getting places.

Plus, over 80% of parents report that taking their kids to school or activities interferes with their workdays. And more than one-fifth of parents say their work is interrupted daily.

“My kids come first, and my job is flexible, but with one kid playing softball literally every day of the week, coordination is very difficult and stressful,” said another parent.

Things are even more complex if a kid needs to get picked up without notice. Less than one-third of parents said they could always find a way to get their children home if something came up. That means 70% of parents have no idea how they’d get their kids home, if necessary.

“The biggest problem for me is when I need to pick my child up from school unexpectedly. I am single, work full-time, and she has Type 1 diabetes,” said one mother.

4. And those interruptions threaten careers.

While some caregivers can work around their children’s schedules, this is not always the case. Almost 30% of survey respondents said that driving their children sometimes puts their jobs at risk. And 7% of respondents said they feel this way often.

And for those who can’t offer their kids unlimited rides anywhere and everywhere, there’s guilt and stress. Over 40% of respondents said their children might be missing out on important activities because of transportation challenges. 

Other parents feel like they’ve got a little flexibility now, but as remote work fades away, things will get tough again. 

“I work from home now. Things will change once everything starts to open up again,” said one respondent.

5. Parents — and children — can’t do everything.

All parents are superheroes, but there’s a limit to what even the most multitasking moms and dads can do. 

One survey respondent agrees.

“I’m a single mom with three kids and currently no bus service. I’m driving a crazy amount daily just to get everyone to school and home. In a typical year, we have other activities after school, and each year I have to choose which activity and which child to support because I can’t split myself into three,” said one parent. 

Fortunately, there are resources out there. And parents do use them. 

While about 75% of parents drive their kids to school or have help from a partner, about a quarter rely on a school bus, a nanny, or babysitter, or simply ask the kids to walk themselves to school.

About 25% of respondents also use HopSkipDrive to help kids get where they’re going without interruption.

Said one parent, “If it weren’t for HopSkipDrive, my child would not have been able to participate in his sport this year.”