In Year Two of Pandemic, Delaware Families Still Struggling to Find Balance

September 22nd, 2021

Category: Early Childhood Education, News

In a survey conducted by Rodel and the Delaware Readiness Teams, more than 300 Delaware parents and caregivers shared their thoughts about daily life during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, on topics ranging from child care to health screenings to economic stress.

The non-scientific survey was completed in July 2021, before the Delta variant and updated nation- and state-wide mask policies were released. The survey aimed to gather information to help the Delaware Readiness Teams and other partners better serve families during the pandemic.


While a majority of parents want children to return to school for socialization, education, and child care (so they can work), they cite major concerns about balancing work and family demands with caring for child/ren—all while providing support for their and their child/ren’s mental health and wellness.

Compared to the 2020 survey results, a greater share of respondents was concerned about meeting financial needs this year compared to last year (32 percent versus 28 percent). While the share of respondents decreased, more than half were concerned about balancing family and work demands with caring for children.

  • Balance my work and family demands/caring for child/ren (60%)
  • Support my child/ren mental health and wellness needs (45%)
  • Provide my child/ren socialization (45%)
  • Provide my child/ren education and interaction with family/friends (39%)
  • Support my own mental health and wellness needs (39%)
  • Protect my family from exposure to COVID-19 (37%)
  • Meet financial needs (32%)

Click here to explore the full results

In June 2021, the Biden-Harris administration announced the passage of the Child Care Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan which provides the largest Child Tax Credit in history. As of July 15, 2021, most families automatically received monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child depending on their child/ren’s age.

“Even though advance Child Tax Credit payments have eased some of the financial anxieties for some families like putting food on the table and paying down debt, so many Delaware families are struggling with their work and life balance all while protecting their child/ren’s mental and physical health,” said Diane Frentzel, director of the Delaware Readiness Teams.”


The pandemic has significantly changed parents’ child care arrangements and other parenting duties.

Before the pandemic, about half of respondents said their children attended public K-12 school, while 40 percent used full-time child care. However, during the crisis, those percentages dropped to 26 percent attending public K-12 school, while 34 percent were in full-time child care.

Not surprisingly, almost 40 percent of survey respondents indicated that their child/ren were at home with a parent or caregiver. While 40 percent of respondents from New Castle County indicate that this is true, the percentage is lower for respondents in Kent (28 percent) and Sussex (7 percent) counties.

“My work schedule has shifted to where I’m in the office part-time and at home part-time which has made it difficult to find child care,” said one of the DRT Family Survey respondents. “My previous child care provider was near my work but now since I’m at home part-time, I can’t drive the 35 minutes every day.”

When responding to what accommodations would be helpful to support their child’s development at home going forward, 71 percent of parents prioritized resources to support child development and learning, as well as free online education programs like the Readiness Teams’ Virtual Kindergarten Academies.


  • 69 percent of respondents are fully vaccinated. About a quarter of respondents said they are waiting for more data before deciding or that they were not interested in receiving the vaccine.
  • Almost half of respondents said they would have their child/ren vaccinated against COVID-19 if/when it becomes available for their child/ren’s age group. About a quarter responded “no” and almost 30 percent said they were “unsure.”
  • About half of respondents said they would be comfortable allowing their child/ren to participate in in-person activities that included masks or were outdoors. Almost 90 percent said they were willing to allow their child/ren to attend school in-person.
  • When responding to what accommodations would be helpful to support their child’s development at home going forward, 71 percent of parents prioritized resources to support child development and learning as well as free online education programs

Click here to explore the full results

About the Family Survey

Just over 300 Delaware parents and caregivers of children 0-21 responded. The survey was conducted online from July 2-16, 2021. Data collected will be shared with state leaders, including but not exclusive to, the Delaware Department of Education, its Reopening Schools Task Force, Resurgence Advisory committee, as well as district and charter leaders, legislators, and the Delaware Early Childhood Council.

About the Kindergarten Academy

The Virtual Kindergarten Academy series provides an educational journey full of learning opportunities for families and their children entering kindergarten. Each month the academy will focus on a different learning area. Parent sessions will be pre-recorded and available on our website.

The 2021 Virtual Academy in English will be held on the second Tuesday of each month from November 2021 to May 2022. And new this year, there will be Virtual Academies for Spanish-speaking families the second Wednesday of each month from November 2021 to May 2022. For more information, visit:

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Leeann Wallett




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