What Childcare Benefits Do Employees Really Want?

Thinking about employee childcare benefits but not sure where to start? Working parents are asking for:

  • Daycares
  • Backup care
  • Childcare stipends
  • Tutoring

Depending on one’s perspective, that may seem like a lot to request. The reality, however, is it reflects the varied childcare needs working families are confronted with on a daily basis. Amidst an ongoing childcare crisis, families need help with childcare now more than ever.

Some parents may struggle with childcare access and seek employer-sponsored childcare benefits in the form of daycare. Affordability concerns for employees can be alleviated by childcare stipends.

And there are working families who may have regular childcare arrangements in place yet have a serious need for backup care. This type of care ensures they still have childcare when plans change or fall through at the last minute.

Send us a message at Upwards to find out more about the employee childcare benefits working families really want.

Understanding employee childcare benefits requests

As you evaluate childcare benefits programs as an employer, it’s important to gain an understanding of what your employees need in terms of childcare.

For busy working parents and guardians, childcare is a necessity rather than a luxury or nice-to-have. They need flexible, affordable options that work for their unique childcare needs, which is why they’re requesting:

  • Daycares: Long the go-to option for families seeking childcare, daycares come in different forms with corresponding strengths and weaknesses. There are traditional, on-site daycare centers as well as smaller, home daycares based out of a caregiver’s home. On-site daycare centers may work for employees who are commuting for a full-time role with standard 9 - 5 hours, assuming there is availability at the facility and not a long waitlist. Home daycare providers, on the other hand, typically offer extended hours for more flexible scheduling and they are more likely to be located closer to home or work for additional convenience.
  • Tutoring: For some working families with school-aged children, their late afternoon, post-school day childcare needs are figured out and they are more in need of tutoring services for their kids. Tutors can provide general academic support or specialize in very specific subjects to assist students with their studies. Parents and guardians value the focused 1:1 educational approach to help their children with the sizable demands of school.
  • Childcare stipends: Intended to help employees cover the costs of childcare, childcare stipends are an employer-sponsored childcare benefits tool that many families want. Organizations can offer customizable amounts, in monthly or annual allotments. Stipends help working parents afford the crucial childcare that will allow them to be productive on the job.
  • Backup care (also known as “emergency care”): Even for working families who have their regular childcare situations more or less settled, there will be times when plans change or fall through unexpectedly. These occasions require emergency childcare, or backup care, to ensure children are cared for on that particular day. Backup care provides a safety net for families and can be the difference between an employee missing a day of work and having a regular, productive workday.

Modern families need modern childcare benefits

Like many aspects of American society, the concept of what constitutes a family has evolved over time. That evolution demands a more flexible approach to childcare benefits for employees.

In 2022, the modern family is:

  • Nuclear families: A basic social unit defined as a couple and their dependent children. Even though much has changed over the years, a nuclear family is still what many people picture when thinking about employer-sponsored childcare.
  • Guardians and kids: Increasingly, a legal guardian may take the place of biological parents as the main parental influence in a child’s life. Accordingly, everyone should have the option of employee childcare benefits, including guardians.
  • Same-sex couples: It’s important that same-sex couples receive the same care benefits as everyone else. This includes men who require childcare benefits typically only offered to women at the organization.
  • Parents who work from home: Even before the pandemic, some households had a parent or guardian who worked remotely or a hybrid schedule. Over the last couple of years, the number of Americans working from home has skyrocketed, fundamentally changing the family dynamics for countless households. These working families need more flexible childcare options, including backup care, to fit their new normal of working from home.

Whichever form it takes, one universal trait of the modern family is that it is a busy social unit. Families are juggling work priorities along with daily life challenges, including childcare and school. As a result, simply finding care for children can feel like a very tall task. It might range from an extremely time-consuming chore to a seemingly impossible journey.

Unsurprisingly, these working families are looking for help. Employers can provide it with employee childcare benefits like childcare assistance, backup care, and childcare stipends.

Continuing the childcare benefits conversation

You have already taken a crucial first step towards employee childcare benefits by beginning the research and vetting stage. Employer-sponsored childcare benefits are the rare win-win because they support employees while addressing serious business challenges, including absenteeism, retention, productivity, and recruitment.

Upwards is the largest childcare network in America and a leading provider of childcare benefits for employees, helping employers across the country support their working families with the care benefits they need. Our network has grown to over 60,000 small childcare providers.

Want to learn about Upwards' Childcare Benefits?
Childcare AssistanceBackup CareChildcare Stipends
Dedicated care manager to provide 24/7 concierge supportEmergency childcare when regular care falls throughOffset the cost of childcare-related expenses for employees

These flexible programs are affordable and can be paired together to meet the unique needs of your workforce.

To further the employer-sponsored childcare benefits conversation at your organization and discuss ways to satisfy your employees’ care benefits requests, reach out to our team at benefits@upwards.com.


The largest childcare network in the United States, providing access to quality, affordable childcare to families nationwide. We support childcare providers in operating sustainable businesses through a technology-based marketplace and partner with government entities to improve access to care. Upwards also helps employers of all sizes offer their employees childcare benefits. Our mission is to help all families care for their children — not just those who can afford it.

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