Finding affordable, high-quality child care is challenging in the best of circumstances. But for workers whose jobs are marked by volatile or nonstandard work schedules, child care access becomes extraordinarily difficult. These working parents, who often earn low wages and cannot rely on a consistent schedule (or paycheck) or who work nights or weekends, find themselves scrambling to cobble together multiple care arrangements and relying on friends and family to care for their children.

Although rules for federal and state child care assistance programs are changing to address these challenges, in some cases workers with volatile schedules may have difficulty accessing the benefits that help make quality child care more affordable. Volatile job schedules put both the economic wellbeing of families and the early development of children at risk. Fair scheduling policies are two-generational policies, which could improve the lives of both working parents and children.