Census Leaves Dads Uncounted as Main Caregivers
Date: February 27, 2012
Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau counts only women as primary caregivers as it surveys who is providing child care for kids under age 15 in homes with a mom and a dad?
In its Survey of Income and Program Population (SIPP) child care module, the Census Bureau specifies that, in households where both parents are present, the mother is the designated parent to answer childcare questions. That leaves dads who stay at home to care for kids unaccounted, a situation that Daddyshome, Inc., the National At-Home Dad Network, wants corrected right away.
Daddyshome has launched petition and accompanying campaign on change.org to change the way the Census Bureau classifies and represents fathers and parents. Change.org is sending the online petition, dubbed "Dads Don't Babysit," electronically to the Census Bureau, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
I find it hard to believe that the Census Bureau is so out of touch with the reality of parenting today where fathers play such an active role. You only have to look around you at a park or neighborhood to see a dad pushing a stroller in the middle of the day to know that many dads are the main caregivers. Ironically, the Census Bureau's policies seem to be ignoring its own statistics which show that one-third of fathers with working wives regularly care for their children. See the Census' tables on Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010.
A father's contribution to raising kids is a unique gift—just as is a mother's— and deserves recognition. Surely, if the Census Bureau is doing anything at all, it should be drawing an accurate picture of family life, not portraying a 1950s scene. Repainting the landscape to exclude the work of fathers is to not give credit where credit is due.
As Daddyshome President Al Watts put it: "It is an insult to all parents to suggest the time dads spend caring for their children is considered temporary and similar to that of the teenager neighbor, but it is also providing policy-makers with vastly inaccurate data on how American families manage work and childcare arrangements."